Dallas Still Short on Money for New I-30 Trinity River Bridge

City to vote on bridge Wednesday

By Ken Kalthoff
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 5:10 PM CDT
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Dallas city leaders vote this week on the latest plan for another signature bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava -- and not all are on board.

Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News

Dallas city leaders vote this week on the latest plan for another signature bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava -- and not all are on board.

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The latest plan for a Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge along Interstate 30 in Dallas costs $12 million more than the city has to pay for it, but Dallas officials will decide this week whether to go ahead with it anyway.

After years of planning, Councilman Scott Griggs said he is leaning against going forward when the Dallas City Council votes Wednesday.

"I think we need to restore the basics. We need to focus on our potholes, focus on our residential streets, our collectors, our arterials," Griggs said.

The Margaret McDermott I-30 Bridge, named by a family that already donated millions for the Calatrava design, was to be the second of three Calatrava "signature" bridges to appear on the Dallas skyline.

The first Calatrava bridge was the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge extending Woodall Rodgers Freeway across the Trinity River to West Dallas.

An I-35E Calatrava bridge was in the city's early "signature bridge" plans but it has not been designed and there is currently no funding for "signature" elements on I-35E, though city officials have discussed adding some arch feature to that new roadway in the future.

The current $114 million I-30 plan was reduced to just hike and bike bridges along side a standard state roadway because the original Calatrava design was far more than the city could afford.

Griggs said the scaled down plan is still around $40 million more than it was to have been.

"The cost overruns this early in the process are outrageous. These bridges can be very expensive when they're designed by Santiago Calatrava and we don't want these to be blank check," Griggs said.

The state decided the roadway replacement must go forward whether or not the city could afford signature features.

Construction on the I-30 highway crossing is scheduled to begin in May as part of The Horseshoe Project, which will replace the Downtown Dallas Mixmaster along with the I-35E freeway bridge.

Most other city leaders have pushed for the "signature bridges," with strong support from people near the Trinity River.

John Benda owns Fuel City, which is surrounded by parts of the Horseshoe Project.

Benda wants to see all three signature bridges built.

"I think it would only add and enhance the development of Downtown Dallas if they had the signature bridges," he said.

Brothers Ramon and Isaac Cano spent part of their Martin Luther King Holiday riding bicycles near Fuel City and Riverfront Boulevard and they also want to see the Calatrava designed bike crossing built.

"I think that's a great idea to do it in phases. It doesn't have to be done all at one time," Ramon Cano said.

"They should just go ahead and do it and figure out how to get the other 12.  Somebody will pony up and give $12 million," Isaac Cano said.

The Dallas City Council vote Wednesday would close the $12 million shortfall by accepting a new $5 million private contribution, juggling several million dollars in other city money and asking Calatrava to make additional cost saving design changes.

"Can't we build a pretty bridge, the arches, for $74 million?" Griggs asked. "Does it have to go to $114 million? And this is early in the process? We've worked with Calatrava before and we know to expect more cost over runs," he said.

The $799 million Horseshoe Project is due for completion in early 2017.

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