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DALLAS It's a major step forward for one of the biggest components of the Trinity River project.

The Army Corps of Engineers says construction can begin on the approaches to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, saying the state came up with a building plan that does not threaten the levees.

After underground sand was found below and around the levees, the Corps threatened to delay the approaches to the bridge. But the agency ended up giving the project the green light after the Texas Department of Transportation promised added protections.

This is truly an historic moment for Dallas and the Trinity River corridor project because this bridge will be finished as promised, said a clearly pleased Mayor Tom Leppert.

The Corps is requiring the state and city to build an additional dirt berm along the west levee to protect against seepage where Singleton Boulevard will connect with the bridge.

On the east side of the bridge, another berm will be added, along with collars around certain piers to stop seepage.

This addresses the potential problem of an unstable span across the Trinity.

It was specifically focused on the area of the bridge, and so we had the data to develop the analysis that gave us that confidence, said Kevin Craig, project director for the Corps of Engineers.

The city learned again Monday just how water threatens levees when a section gave way near Interstate 35E and Regal Row. Inspectors blamed a leaking water line that ran through the levee.

The Margaret Hunt Hill bridge is the city's first signature bridge and will soar up to 400 feet high.

The construction go-ahead ends a long delay to the planned Trinity toll road because of levee concerns.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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