DALLAS - Construction of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, a signature element of the Trinity River project, will be delayed at least 10 months because of problems acquiring the steel needed to build it.
William Hale, chief engineer for the Dallas district of the Texas Department of Transportation, wrote in a memo to City Manager Mary Suhm last week that the Italian steel manufacturer, Cimolai, will be "unable to deliver the fabricated steel components by the deadline required by the contract."
Designed by famed architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge was most recently scheduled for completion in May 2010.
The project has long endured setbacks, however. In 2005, officials had hoped it would be finished by 2007.
In his memo, Hale wrote that the bridge is now unlikely to be done before March 2011.
The delay marks a significant setback not only for the bridge itself but for the whole Trinity project.
City officials consider the bridge's completion a milestone event not only in the $2 billion Trinity park and tollway project, but for the re-development of downtown Dallas.
Council member Dave Neumann, chairman of the council's Trinity River committeee, wrote in The Dallas Morning News earlier this year that the bridge will "create a new skyline for the city."< /p>
It "will link downtown and West Dallas and will initiate an economic renewal that is long overdue," he wrote.
While the bridge's completion date is now pushed back, TxDOT officials hope it will still open to traffic on schedule in March 2011.
TxDOT had planned to complete the bridge in May, and then work on its approaches at the Woodall Rogers freeway and Singleton Boulevard.
The plan now is to work on the approaches while the steel bridge is fabricated in Italy, Hale wrote.
"Therefore, the fabrication delay, as it currently stands, would not affect the opening and use of the roadway," he wrote.
The Trinity River committee isn't scheduled to be briefed on the delay until Sept. 16.