The Waller Creek project in Austin, Texas, has been a long time in the planning stages—several decades in fact—but construction work has finally begun and the ground has been broken on site.
The Waller Creek tunnel is being built to help control flooding from the Waller Creek, a perennial problem that has been blighting the local area for a long time. Once construction work on the mile long Waller Creek tunnel has been completed, flood water will be carried safely from the Waller Creek into the Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin. With the problem of seasonal flooding removed from the equation, property developers will be able to expand the eastern downtown area of the city, a large expanse of land that is currently sitting on a 100 year old flood plain.
The flood plain covers around 26 acres and the land is estimated to have a current market value of $4 billion. With the Waller Creek tunnelling project finally underway, Austin city officials expect the property developers to come flooding in, eagerly buying up prime building land before the property boom begins. But whilst many residents are pleased that the Waller Creek tunnel will soon be taking care of the flooding problems in the local area, some are concerned that the newly developed land may soon be unaffordable for local residents who wish to buy property.
The Waller Creek tunnelling project has been budgeted at $144 million and will be paid for through a tax increment finance district: money generated from the sale of the land will be used to reimburse the cost of the project. Plans for the tunnelling project were first approved back in 1998, but were put on hold once it was realised the voters had not approved such a steep bill for the project.