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Dallas Accepts Donation For Second Downtown ‘Signature Bridge’

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bud Gillett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A second ‘Signature Bridge’ in Dallas is a big step closer to reality.

The Dallas City Council accepted a major donation towards creation of a bicycle and pedestrian bridge by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, to go along with the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge in West Dallas that opened last March.

The donation came from the Trinity Trust. Trinity Commons Foundation spokesman Craig Holcomb called it vital to Dallas’ image. “This design is simple, it’s elegant, people will love it, and we’ve got the money. We can afford it.”

When completed, the Margaret McDermott Bridge will parallel Interstate 35E with a Calatrava design over pedestrian and bike pathways…scaled back—because of cost—from the original concept of arches spanning the entire roadway.

The bridge is separate from replacement bridges planned for both I-35E and I-30, which will run nearly $800 million. Private donations are to make up the difference between a regular pedestrian and bike bridge and the $102 million Calatrava addition.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings claimed city taxpayers are not affected. “We were able to build this with private money, with federal money, with some state money and really—except for the maintenance of this—it’s not out of the taxpayers’ dollars.”

But operation and maintenance of it and the Hunt-Hill bridge will likely run $600,000 a year, something Scott Griggs found distressing. “We really need to focus on ways fund to operation and maintenance up front because these two bridges are up over $600,000 a year which is over 1% of our entire street budget.”

Griggs and Angela Hunt voted against accepting a $5 million private donation from the Trinity Trust; the donation effectively locks the city into accepting $91 million in federal money.

Hunt argues Dallas taxpayers already are on the hook. “We already have $1.9 million, which we approved today, in city of Dallas funds. We’ve already approved part of that, those are public art funds, so that’s where that funding comes from. So, yes, city of Dallas taxpayers are paying for a little bit of this, the question is, when we have to deal with the next cost overrun, where does the money come from?” she asked, before concluding, “We’re responsible for it at the end of the day, that’s the contract we signed.”

But the news is welcome near the project, especially to a long-time business there. The Hickory House has been at the same location on what is now Riverfront Boulevard since 1952. Nick Spyropoulos has owned it for five years. He’s eager to see the second Calatrava Bridge completed. “Well, I think it’s going to be great, because we’ll be the only ones around here, so it’s going to help us. There’ll be a lot more traffic around here and hopefully it’ll be good for the business and for the area.”

Groundbreaking for the Signature Bridge project is set for later this spring. If all goes according to schedule it’ll take another three years to complete.

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