Hill Bridge: 'This is what we've been waiting for'




Posted on March 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

Updated Sunday, Mar 4 at 11:47 AM

DALLAS — Sunday is the last day of three-day celebration at the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge linking downtown with West Dallas.

While there are no special events planned, the bridge will remain open to pedestrians through 4 p.m. Sunday. It is expected to open to traffic later this month after the Texas Department of Transportation completes work on approach ramps.

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller — who attended the 2005 groundbreaking ceremony for the Hunt Bridge — shared her thoughts at Sunday morning's dedication ceremony attended by an estimated 400 people.

"We all felt it as the sun was coming up, and we had hundreds of people walking from the west, and hundreds of people walking from the east," she said. "We all met in the center, and we all smiled at each other, and we said: 'This is what we've been waiting for.'"

Two other former Dallas mayors — Tom Leppert and Ron Kirk — also attended the dedication along with current Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm said she understood why some citizens are troubled by the span's $182 million price tag, but said she considered it to be a good investment.

"I really believe that there will not be any question 10 or 15 years from now as we see how our city develops around it," Suhm said. "I understand their skepticism at the moment, but yes, I believe it's going to make a huge difference in our community."

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who is also the mastermind of a second distinctive span across the Trinity River that will replace the existing Interstate 30 highway bridge. Suhm said Calatrava's vision will be unveiled within the next six months, and will complement the Hunt bridge.

"It's the traditional arches that he does, and it's probably half to three-quarters as tall as this bridge, but the arches are very, very long — reaching almost to the levees," Suhm told News 8. "They're on both sides of the bridge, so it'll be a very impressive structure."

She said the I-30 structure will incorporate pedestrian and bicycle lanes in addition to the roadways, and it is anticipated that construction will commence about this time next year.

Suhm addded that it is not out of the question that Calatrava would design a third bridge to replace the existing Interstate 35E Trinity crossing.

"He does gorgeous work," the city manager said. "He really touched me this morning when he talked about the faith and the love and the commitment of this city to these type of works and to himself and to making the city better, and so, yeah, I would hope he'd be with us on that third one."

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com