Dallas Moves Forward With Cheaper Calatrava Bridge Plan

By Bud Gillett, CBS 11 News

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – On Wednesday, the City Council approved giving Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava $10.7 million to redesign portions of his second “signature” bridge crossing the Trinity River into downtown to cut costs on the final project.

The first such bridge, the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, is already under construction. Wednesday’s vote will give Calatrava, who also designed the earlier bridge, the additional money to reconfigure a more frugal design. But Wednesday’s 14-1 vote didn’t pass without some nay saying.

“Let’s be smart with our money,” said District 14 councilwoman Angela Hunt.

Hunt balked at the idea of sending any more money to the architect, saying the city should opt to build a more standard and affordable bridge altogether.

“We have one Calatrava Bridge, and it seems like one should be enough when we can go forward and build a plain vanilla bridge,” she said.

Hunt means a standard TxDOT bridge the state will pay for. The current span off I-30 into downtown over the Trinity River is clearly showing wear. Federal grants and private money have been raised to cover the Calatrava “extras” on the span – which is dubbed the Margaret McDermott Bridge because of private donations – but Hunt thinks, in today’s economy, the timing is all wrong.

“We have the prize, we already have the Calatrava Bridge,” Hunt said. “Let’s be frugal in this economy, and it’s symbolic as well.”

She was the only councilmember to vote against the plan.

“Respectfully, Ms. Hunt, I disagree,” said District 3 councilman Dave Neumann. “I do think that an improved signature-style I-30 Margaret McDermott bridge will bring economic development. It opens the door to Oak Cliff and West Dallas and the western part of our city.”

Craig Holcomb, director of the Trinity Commons Foundation, called the vote a major step. The foundation helped set up donations for the bridge.

“When I’m out in the community, people say, ‘What’s going to happen?’ This is one of those steps that could mean next year we have the second Calatrava bridge under construction,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb expressed confidence in the architect’s ability to find creative ways to cut costs without sacrificing style.

“We are giving him a budget and saying, ‘You have to live within it and you have to design something that’s spectacular,’” Holcomb said. “We’ll have a Calatrava arch of some sort.”

Dallas resident Fred Peterson said he understands Hunt’s concerns, but still thinks the upscale bridges are worthwhile.

“It’ll bring attention to Dallas and kind of showcase the town he said,” he said. “In this day and time you’d think this was a waste of money, but … for the long haul down the road it’ll probably pay off.”

The city expects to start seeing the bridge’s rewards in October, when the first of the two is planned to open. The original plan called for three signature bridges across the Trinity River. City planners will begin working toward that third bridge if and when the I-30 Margaret McDermott Bridge is finished.


One Comment

  1. Hoo says:

    It’s tough economic times Dallas. It’s a bridge. It gets vehicles over a river. Truth is, nobody really cares as long as it’s a bridge that works. That’s all we need…a bridge that works.

  2. g.j. says:

    Just so austentationsly, Dallas. Thankfully, at least Councilwoman Hunt was willing to speak to the excess.

  3. Kernel Maize says:

    Thank goodness for Angela Hunt. She’s a lone rational voice crying out in the wilderness of absurdity. Quality of services makes a city attractive. It’s more about people much less about things.

  4. johnny p. says:

    A beautiful bridge can be a nice thing to draw attention to all the recent growth and development that’s taken place here but, in all honesty, I’m not so blown away with the design. It’s pretty much just an arch over an otherwise standard bridge. Wondering if a knockoff might have been sufficient.

  5. d col says:

    How long have they been working on that bridge?
    Now, we have a large white pipe over the bridge.
    what a waste

  6. JM says:

    I like Angela Hunt, but I have to disagree with her on this issue. Dallas doesn’t really have anything spectacular to look at, besides the architecture and design put into the downtown buildings and various arts projects around the city; unlike other major cities in the US that have natural landscapes to compliment their city we do not have that luxury here, so the sooner the bridges are in place and the lakes come together the better. For people that think that a road/bridge cannot bring prosperity to an area, all you need to do is look at the North Dallas Tollway to see that economic prosperity can follow in the form of designing a certain type of road or suspension bridge in this case. If you look at the National Monument in DC or the St Louis Arch or even the Riverwalk in San Antonio, they all could be looked at as a waste of money and fairly ordinary; but each of these structures adds design and character to the cities that they are in, which is what Dallas is trying to continue to do with the city by building something more than just ‘plain vanilla’. Instead of looking at the bridges as just a transportation project, people should understand that they are also an arts and design project that will add character to our great city.

  7. Donna says:

    This is a huge part of Dallas’ financial problems – a totally CLUELESS Council.

    It’s a Highway BRIDGE – it is NOT a DOOR to anything, anywhere. It’s not even a very attractive BRIDGE, and certainly not worth millions.

    The only people who care about the fancy designer bridge are the fancy designers.

  8. david says:

    all the people on that council need to be replaced due to being out of touch…what kind of fool pays that kind of money for a design and then don’t even have the money for the thing in the first place and then does it all over again…they all need to be recalled or fired.

  9. Rick McDaniel says:

    Dallas has been spending huge amounts of money on “window dressing” projects, that will do little to improve the city, while spending millions of tax dollars, with no real return on the investment.

    Fancy bridges are just one issue………parks over freeways is another.

    Being foolish, seems to be a big part of modern politics.

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