DALLAS (CBS11) – The opening of the highly anticipated $17 million Mockingbird pedestrian bridge was delayed yet again.
The project, which has been in the works for more than a decade, is now scheduled to be finished by October.
This is the second time the city has pushed back the opening date of the footbridge this year.
“It is an absolute frustration that we have to wait several more months before this is finished,” said former Dallas council member Angela Hunt.
Hunt was on city council when the bridge was originally scheduled to be finished back in 2011.
City public works officials said issues with the design of the pedestrian bridge along with challenges acquiring the easement property have led to the delays in the multi-million-dollar bridge project.
Since December 2011, the date the city originally said the bridge would be open, 16 people trying to cross Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway have been struck by vehicles.
Two of them were killed.
“The fact of the matter is the deaths and the accidents were absolutely avoidable,” Hunt said. “There’s no reason for them to happen other than we delayed the bridge for too many years.”
In April of 2016, local film critic Gary Murray was attending a film festival at Mockingbird Station when he attempted to cross Mockingbird Lane.
Murray, 53, had finished a seminar at a nearby hotel and was walking back across the street to the theater when a pick-up truck hit him in the crosswalk.
Investigators said Murray had the right-of-way. The driver failed to stop and, more than a year later, has still not been identified.
“To know he was just run over and left, that’s the thing that hurts the most. It’s cruel.” said Murray’s mother, Lucy.
Murray said her son would be alive today if the city had made good on its word to complete the pedestrian bridge on time.
Murray’s sister, Barbara, said her brother’s death was preventable.
“It was absolutely preventable and all of the other deaths before Gary and the deaths that are to come,” she said.
A year before Murray’s death, 20-year-old Paul Miltenberger, a University of Missouri student from Southlake, was also killed by hit-and-run driver as he tried to cross the same section of Mockingbird Lane. The day after the 2015 crash, the driver who hit Miltenberger turned himself into police.
The latest pedestrian involved crash near Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway took place in March and involved a 66-year-old man. He was treated at the scene for minor injuries and released, according to the crash report. This was the 16th reported pedestrian crash near the intersection in the past six years.
Along with difficulty acquiring the easement property for the bridge, city officials said building a pedestrian bridge above an existing busy roadway and on top of the DART Mockingbird train station complicated construction and resulted in the project taking longer than anticipated.
However, critics note the city was able to build a pedestrian bridge above another busy roadway a few miles away in a fraction of the time it has taken it to finish the Mockingbird bridge.
The city finished the pedestrian bridge at Harry Hines Boulevard and Walnut Hill Lane last year. That bridge was approved by the city eight years after the bridge at Mockingbird.
Hunt said the delays in the Mockingbird bridge are the result of government inefficiencies and a reflection of the city’s priorities.
“I’ve always said if this was a convention center hotel this would have been done in 18 months and not 12 years.”
Friends of Murray have started an online petition to name the bridge in honor of local movie critic. They plan to present their petition to the city.