Nostalgia lingers for finale of LBJ bridge

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on August 20, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 21 at 9:22 PM

FARMERS BRANCH  — Major progress is under way on the LBJ Freeway expansion project, but it is costing some neighbors a piece of their past.

The Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Bridge between Marsh Lane and Webb Chapel Road will have to be demolished as part of the LBJ Express remake.

For some, this is more than a bridge; it's a walk down memory lane — and the only safe way for youngsters to get to school.

Dozens of people took one final stroll across the bridge on Saturday evening. Debbie Yancey drove two hours to share the moment.

"Everybody wanted to return to their roots one more time before they demolish it," she said.

Next month, the pedestrian bridge will go to make room for LBJ's billion-dollar expansion.

"It had a lot of memories for a lot of people and it brought two neighborhoods together," said Lacy Bradshaw, who organized the walk-over.

For nearly four decades, the pedestrian bridge connected a North Dallas neighborhood with Cabell Elementary School in Farmers Branch.

Abby Torres moved her family here because the span made it easy for her kids to walk to class. Now she's decided to transfer her son to another school a mile away, even though the Dallas ISD has offered to bus students across LBJ to Cabell.

The demise of the bridge is a loss for many who grew up using and playing on the structure. Saturday night's event was sort of a reunion for a bridge that was still connecting people even in its final moments.

The bridge will be closed to pedestrians starting Sunday, but it will not be torn down until September. Plans are to have its replacement open by January.

Earlier this week, there was a big change in the LBJ Express project. The HOV toll lanes were originally designed to run under the roadway.

But the developers say drainage problems will force them to move the lanes to ground level at the intersection of LBJ and the Dallas North Tollway.

Officials will vote on the proposed changes early next year.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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