Architect hopes to complete trio of Dallas bridges

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 4, 2012 at 12:28 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 4 at 10:17 AM

DALLAS — The world-famous architect behind Dallas’ new bridge says his work in Dallas is not yet done.

Santiago Calatrava has already finished designing a second bridge over the Trinity River to complement the soaring single white arch of his new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge spanning the Trinity River.

Now, he says he hopes to design a third bridge, as originally planned — back when dreams and budgets seemed to be bigger.

"It is necessary, I think, to do at least a third piece, who will, of course, compliment [the other bridges]," the Spanish architect told News 8 on Saturday. "They have to be like sisters speaking with each other!"

As thousands marvel this weekend at the new bridge linking downtown Dallas with West Dallas, few remember the original vision hatched nearly 15 years ago.

The Hunt Bridge extending Woodall Rodgers Freeway was supposed to be the first of five Calatrava-designed bridges spanning the Trinity River.

Rising costs and other delays kept shrinking the project. When city leaders broke ground on the Hunt Bridge in 2005, Calatrava's role had been reduced to three bridges.

Even then, city leaders boasted that Dallas would be the only city in the world with three signature Calatrava-designed bridges.

But in the years that followed, planners scaled back even further, admitting that taxpayers can only afford two of his creations.

"I feel like it was a very expensive bridge," complained Dallas resident Carolyn Buss, marveling at at the gleaming white cables while standing on its road deck and snapping photos during a three-day celebration to mark the span's completion. "I think it's pretty spectacular, but Dallas could certainly have used the money to put into the schools."

The $182 million Hunt bridge cost millions more than a typical design. Calatrava's fees were $6.3 million — nearly three times the standard design cost.

Private donations covered the additional expense of hiring Calatrava and some of the complicated work that his vision entailed, but the state and city spent years compiling funding from various sources to afford the massive project.

Budget constraints have scaled back Calatrava's designs on the second bridge to replace the current Interstate 30 highway bridge over the Trinity. Final plans have not been released to the public, but engineers say it will include a sweeping arch connecting the two banks of the river.

"I don’t think he compromised during design," said Charles Quade, one of the engineers for the Hunt Bridge. "This is his original vision for the project, and I think it's going to be the same for the second project."

The state hopes to begin construction on the I-30 bridge in late 2013.

Designs have not been finalized for the third bridge to replace part of Interstate 35. And city leaders say nothing has been decided on that project — including the architect.

It's enough of an opening to keep Santiago Calatrava hopeful.

"I am very much willing to do the third one," he said. "Very much!"

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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