Dallas Refuses to Give Up on Second “Signature” Bridge


A Spanish architect will get another $10 million from Dallas to redesign a second so-called "signature" bridge over the Trinity River.

State highway officials say work on the Interstate 30 bridge must begin next year because the existing 50-year-old bridge is in bad shape. The state wants to move forward with a basic bridge that would cost about $170 million.

City Manager Mary Suhm said Santiago Calatrava was paid $11 million for a second bridge design with four arches to replace the I-30 bridge over the Trinity.

The city has not raised enough money to build the eye-catching design.

But in a 13-1 vote, the City Council refused to give up on a long-standing plan to attract attention to the skyline with several exceptional bridges.

"Our responsibility is to go above and beyond to a place that we believe is right, for this our international city," Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill said.

Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan said the city has stopped its fundraising efforts for the four-arch bridge.

Instead, Calatrava will be asked to use the additional money approved Wednesday to develop a less expensive plan that would still include a noticeable design.

One option is a hike and bike trail that would be adjacent to the highway bridge.

"Just because we have a small, short-term issue regarding our economy, it should not sway us away from our vision," Councilman Steve Salazar said.

Officials say $92 million in federal earmarks have been allocated for the project, but officials with the Texas Department of Transportation said it is not clear whether that money can be used for the additional Calatrava design elements the city wants.

"We are having ongoing conversations with the Federal Highway Administration about that," TxDOT spokeswoman Cynthia Northrop White said.

She said TxDOT is still working to identify the $170 million it needs for a basic I-30 bridge.

Hill said the $92 million came with the understanding it would be used for signature bridge elements.

"That money did not come to us with the idea that we would bridge TxDOT's funding gap," she said.

Half of the $10 million going to Calatrava now was provided by an anonymous donor through the Trinity Trust.

"This is good news for Dallas," Councilman Dave Neumann said. "We should be celebrating a $5 million private donation."

Councilwoman Angela Hunt was the lone vote against additional design money for Calatrava.

She said a Calatrava bridge already under construction is enough of a boost to the Dallas skyline.

The bridge, which features a soaring single-arch design, will extend Woodall Rodgers Freeway to West Dallas.

"We are extravagantly wasting funds on a project that is arguably not necessary," she said. "We have the prize. We already have the Calatrava bridge. Let's be frugal in this economy."

Jordan said city staff would now work with TxDOT and Calatrava to develop a new 'signature' component for the I-30 bridge.

A third signature bridge in the city's plan would replace the Interstate 35E bridge over the Trinity, but that bridge was never designed, and no funding has ever been identified.

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