DALLAS (CBS11 I-TEAM) – By this summer the highly anticipated Mockingbird pedestrian bridge in North Dallas is finally expected to open. However, for more than a dozen pedestrians who’ve been injured and even killed trying to cross Mockingbird Lane, the long-awaited bridge is far too late.READ MORE: Public Utility Commission Grills ERCOT Over Its Call For Texans To Conserve Energy This Week
Pedestrian bridge was supposed to be complete by 2011
In 2009, the City of Dallas in a public presentation said construction of the Mockingbird pedestrian bridge would be complete by December of 2011.
However, the groundbreaking of the project didn’t happen until 2013 and it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 that noticeable construction work on the bridge began.
The city now estimates the full-funded $17-million bridge will be finished by sometime this summer — more than a decade after former council member Angela Hunt first proposed the pedestrian bridge as a part of the Katy Trail expansion project.
The bridge will connect the Katy Trail with DART’s Mockingbird Station and trails to the North.
15 pedestrians injured, two killed since 2011
Since the missed 2011 completion date, crash reports show 15 people have been struck by vehicles trying to cross Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway, including two men who were killed.
Last April, local film critic, Gary Murray, was crossing Mockingbird Lane at Central Expressway. He was in the crosswalk and had the right of way when investigators said a car turning right from the frontage road onto Mockingbird Lane whipped around the corner, hit Murray, and kept going. To this day investigators still don’t know who hit and killed the 53-year-old film critic.
“To know he was just run over and left — that’s the thing that hurts the most,” said Murray’s mother, Lucy.
Just a year before Murray’s death, 20-year-old Paul Miltenberger, a University of Missouri college student from Southlake, was also killed by a hit-and-run driver as he tried to cross the same section of Mockingbird Lane. The day after the crash the alleged driver, 31-year-old Jonathan Redmond, turned himself in to police. According to investigators, Redmond admitted to not stopping to help after the collision.
All 15 pedestrian accidents occurred within feet of the still yet to be completed pedestrian bridge.READ MORE: Tarrant County Issues Warning About Expedited Passport Scams
Lucy Murray said, “If they would have done it a year ago maybe my son would still be here.”
Dallas councilman says project was delayed because of “petty personal politics”
The City of Dallas 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.
But Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston said he believes there’s another reason.
“I think that an important infrastructure project, one of most important in my district and one that was fully funded, was held up because of petty personal politics,” said Kingston. “And I am absolutely making that allegation.”
Kingston said he believes the city purposely delayed the project to punish him and his predecessor, former council member Angela Hunt.
“I believe Angela Hunt was being punished for asking questions — for not toeing the party line,” said Kingston.
The city denies these allegations.
Victim’s mother: “Just put in a bridge”
Lucy Murray said she’s not sure what explanation to believe and, frankly, she said she doesn’t really care what the reasons are.
The Texas mother said the bridge should have been built by now — adding it could have saved her son’s life and will save others as soon as it’s built.
“Just put in a bridge,” she said. “Just put in a bridge.”MORE NEWS: 6-Year-Old Fatally Stabbed In Dallas, Woman In Custody
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