Rain could again delay Dallas bridge opening

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on March 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 20 at 6:41 PM

DALLAS — A major deadline at the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas is set for next week, but crews have a lot of work to do.

The opening of city's signature span is scheduled for Thursday, March 29, but the state says even that deadline might not be met because of weather.

At one point, the Texas Department of Transportation envisioned that the bridge would be able to open in January. Then they set a deadline for the first weekend of March, but heavy, constant rain set it back.

As traffic whipped by Tuesday on Stemmons Freeway, construction equipment sat idle again on unfinished approaches to the Hill Bridge. The rain delay means the bridge opening to some of these vehicles might be delayed again, according to the lead TxDOT engineer on the project, Duane Milligan.

"We're not sure exactly sure what the impact of the weather [will be], and I understand there's more weather coming, so we're not exactly sure the impact," he said.

But TxDOT knows enough looking over the mud, water and unfinished concrete on the southbound exit from Stemmons Freeway that the bridge might not be done by a week from Thursday.

After workers finally resume, they must clear out the areas where concrete is yet to be poured on two exit ramps.

Traffic signals also need to be installed at the intersection of Riverfront Boulevard and the bridge ramps.

And that's not all.

"Final grading out the project, putting in sidewalks the last amenities and things," Milligan said. "Getting the project seeded and sodded."

After a weekend of events celebrating the significance of the bridge two-and-a-half weeks ago, TxDOT and the city are frustrated it's not yet open to traffic... and cars might now have to wait until early April, according to Milligan.

"I don't think it would be much more than, you know, another week or so," he said. "It's not going to be a long delay."

But TxDOT won't know for sure until there are dry days... and the equipment gets moving again.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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