Fort Worth is getting ready to begin construction on a $435-million infrastructure project that will lay the groundwork for revitalizing the city's historic Trinity River Uptown District, with a mix of uses along the riverfront, including 10,000 residential units and eventually retail.

The plan calls for a 1.5-mile diversion channel that will open up 12 miles of riverfront to development in addition to providing flood control, according to J. D. Granger, executive director for the Trinity River Authority, a nonprofit corporation created by the Tarrant Regional Water District to oversee planning and infrastructure improvements in uptown.

“We could have found an easier, cheaper way to go about flood control, but it would have created a blighted area,” says Granger, noting that over the long term, this plan will pay for itself, creating an estimated 16,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in economic activity.

Spearheaded by Streams & Valleys, a nonprofit grassroots organization that has made recreational improvements along the river, the master plan, which was developed by Vancouver, Canada — based BingThom Architects, is a culmination of input from community residents and users of the river's hike, bike and equestrian trails.

Uptown is the birthplace of Fort Worth, and city officials have established design guidelines to preserve the district's historical character while creating a pedestrian-friendly environment. Granger says the Main Street corridor is wide enough to add light-rail service once density comes into play, so people will be able to live in uptown and commute to downtown without an automobile.

About $800 million in private and public development has already been completed or is under way in the area. Radio Shack and Pier 1 Imports built new corporate headquarters on the riverfront, and a new ballpark for the Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball team opened in the district in 2002.

Tarrant County Community College will break ground next month on a 55-acre, $270-million central campus uptown. Local developer Trinity Bluffs LTD also is under way on a $400-million mixed-use project, with 1,800 housing units and 50,000 square feet of retail. Trinity Bluffs will be built in phases over the next six years, with the first 304 rental units opening in 2007.