Ken Kalthoff, NBCDFW.com
Not everyone on the west side of the Trinity River is thrilled about a planned stoplight for the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge will end at a stoplight on the West Dallas side.
The soaring bridge designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatra extends the Woodall Rodgers Freeway across the Trinity River.
Workers are making progress on support cables for the suspension bridge.
On the eastern side, big new ramps are well under way to connect it with the Woodall Rodgers and Stemmons freeways.
Still far from complete is the landing on the West Dallas side where a major fill project has begun with retaining walls to raise the level of Beckley Avenue, Canada Drive and Singleton Boulevard.
A new signal light intersection will be constructed there at the height of the river levee.
“It’s really not that unusual in that you’re coming into a neighborhood, more of a neighborhood situation, versus a freeway situation,” said Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Cynthia Northrop-White.
She said the arrangement was decided years ago to complement development plans for West Dallas.
Property owners intend to transform industrial areas at the foot of the bridge into a mixed-use area of high-rise homes and businesses with an emphasis on people walking to the huge new park planned in the riverbed beneath the bridge.
Bridge construction has boosted interest in that plan, said Butch McGregor, of West Dallas Investments.
“Six months ago, we couldn’t get anybody to talk to us," he said. "Today, we have people talking to us, so this bridge -- when it’s complete -- is going to be a huge tourist attraction."
The Continental Viaduct, which ends in West Dallas at about the same place as the bridge landing, will be closed to vehicle traffic and reopened as a hike and bike trail across the river.
McGregor said a traffic light there makes sense to make the whole area safer.
“I think you’d have to have a stop light there because the traffic would be going too fast down Singleton,” he said.
John McNeil and his family have run a nearby business for decades.
He said the extra traffic developers hope to see would just back up across the bridge because of the traffic signal.
“We haven’t had a light there before, and the traffic ran very smoothly, pretty well smooth all the time," he said. "I just don’t think it’s going to work with a light."
McGregor said an alternate plan called for moving the traffic light farther away from the bridge to provide a more gradual entrance to the neighborhood but the city does not own enough of the needed land.
“It would be great, I think, but I’m not a street designer,” he said.
McGregor said the alternate plan would still be worth considering in the future, but Northrop-White said the city would have to find the money.
“It’s a city street, so it will fall into their jurisdiction,” she said.
The state’s contract price for the bridge is $69.7 million. The combined price for approaches outside the river levees on both sides adds another $47.5 million to the total cost.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is due to open in less than a year.