Swollen Trinity delays work on signature bridge

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 10, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Updated Friday, Sep 10 at 8:49 PM

DALLAS — This week's heavy rains are gone, but the runoff is still rolling through Dallas as water remains levee-to-levee in the Trinity River near downtown.

That means work has been halted on the new Margaret Hunt Hill bridge spanning the river.

Texas Department of Transportation workers have been inactive on the Calatrava-designed bridge connecting downtown to West Dallas for three days now, and the work won't resume until water is out of the floodway and back in the channel.

The Trinity flowing levee-to-levee is always a powerful scene, as millions of gallons of water flows south through Dallas toward the Gulf of Mexico.

But with work ongoing at the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge, the rare view means the work stops.

Duane Milligan is the project manager, and this is the first time his job site has filled with water this year.

"I'd seen the pictures, but to see it happen in person was quite eye-opening," he said.

Milligan's crews haven't worked since Tuesday.

TxDOT built 16 weather days into its schedule for this year, and they haven't been topped yet.

"We build in days in our contracts knowing that the weather will slow us down, so this doesn't hurt our schedule," Milligan said.

But a delay is possible if there are more heavy rains this fall.

Workers had been welding and bolting together the steel beams in the midsection of the massive structure, an area currently accessible only from below.

When high water threatened on Tuesday, TxDOT scrambled to move equipment to higher ground, but a large crane stayed put; it's too big to move on short notice.

Milligan said the crane won't be ruined. "Worst case scenario, they would have to change out some of the fluids and it would be right back to work," he explained.

TXDOT hopes that's sooner than later. The bridge is scheduled for completion next June, weather permitting.

A second signature bridge is planned to replace the Interstate 30 span over the Trinity River, but it is only partially funded; TxDOT is looking for more money.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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