By Brian New

DALLAS (CBS11) – Six years overdue, the highly anticipated Mockingbird pedestrian bridge is finally set to open Thursday.

The City of Dallas will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the $17 million footbridge that crosses over Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway.

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Mockingbird footbridge (CBS11)

City leaders approved the bridge more than a decade ago as part of the Katy Trail expansion project.

Mockingbird footbridge (CBS11)

While the bridge was originally designed for recreation purposes, in recent years city council members and residents have highlighted the bridge’s added benefit of providing an alternative to pedestrians trying to cross Mockingbird Lane at street level.

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.

In April 2016, local film critic Gary Murray was attending a film festival at Mockingbird Station when he attempted to cross Mockingbird Lane.

Gary Murray (credit: Dallas International Film Festival)

Investigators said the 53-year-old had the right-of-way when a vehicle hit him. The drivers of the vehicle never stopped and, to this day, has not been caught.

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Murray’s friend, John Strange, said knowing how safety-minded Murray was, he believes Murray would be alive today had the city finished the bridge on time.

“Do I think that the city failed us? Yes, I do,” Strange said. “What it took to get them off their duffs to get the project started was like pulling teeth. Still to this day I don’t understand why they kept stalling.”

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.

Earlier this year former Dallas council member Angel Hunt voiced her frustrations with the delays in the project.

She said, “The fact of the matter is the deaths and the accidents were absolutely avoidable. There’s no reason for them to happen other than we delayed the bridge for too many years.”

Now that the bridge is finished done, friends of Murray want the bridge named in his honor. Many helped organize an online petition, gathering more than 300 signatures to turn into the city.

“Unfortunately, the word we got back comes down to we don’t have the millions it is going to cost to buy the naming rights,” Strange said. “They are going to sell the naming rights to this bridge.”

City officials said there is no immediate plans to name or sell the naming rights to the bridge.

A year before Murray’s death, 20-year-old Paul Miltenberger was also killed by a hit-and-run driver as he tried to cross the same section of road.

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Paul Miltenberger, 20, a University of Missouri student from Southlake was killed by hit-and-run driver.