Standing on the Margaret Hunt Hill, Before Getting a Look at What Runs Below

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Speaking of the Trinity River ...

Perhaps I didn't end up visiting the under-construction Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on the best day for our ongoing Unfair Park series, "Sweaty Dispatches From a Sweltering City." While I was out on the pavement girded with Italian steel early Thursday afternoon, there were all these plump, cottony wisps in the sky -- whatever those are -- running interference between the sun, a Swiss-cheese ozone layer and my motel tan.

Nevertheless, I linked up with Duane Milligan, the TxDOT engineer overseeing the construction of Santiago Calatrava's addition to the Dallas skyline, at a quadruple-wide trailer sitting beneath the I-30 overpass on Riverfront. A strapping grad of both UT and U of Houston, we discussed shooting feral hogs with .357s in South Texas and, incidentally, the stray bullet that hit the trailer earlier that week (police ruled it criminal mischief), before setting out for the bridge.

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We parked the white TxDOT Chevy along the unfinished concrete dividers. Down the median, men were shoveling debris and cleaning up. Along the outer edge, they were prepping the bridge for the signature white guardrails. The railing should complement nicely the harp-string cable stays running the length of the bridge, which keep whole sections from falling into the Trinity below, now that the shoring towers supporting the platform have been pulled out of the ground and hauled off.

By 2:30 in the afternoon, though, the day was already drawing to a close. The bridge builders were loading their trucks and trailers. Most of them had been here since 4:30 a.m., taking advantage of the cooler morning hours to pour concrete that would otherwise set too quickly in the heat.

At this point in the day, which should be intolerably hot, it was overcast instead. And for a moment, both Milligan and I entertained febrile hopes for rain. (The sun ultimately killed the clouds we saw.) It looked like my "Sweaty Dispatch" would become a "Mildly Flushed Report From A Not Intolerably Hot City."

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Instead, we decided to explore the bridge's innards and geek on what is really a pretty fascinating piece of architecture. We clambered down a 20-foot ladder into a conduit that runs the length of the bridge. Anchored in the ceiling at intervals were the bridge's iconic cable stays, which are actually just bundles of steel cables encased in PVC sheaths. Along the walls were portholes that at some point will house lights illuminating the bridge's underside. And extending along the conduit, an inconceivably heavy steel spine braced the bridge platform.

After climbing back out, we drove to the edge of the bridge, where a massive embankment will have to be laid before Calatrava's bridge can connect with Singleton. There's work to be done, indeed, but Milligan says he doesn't see any reason why they won't hit their March 2012 deadline. In fact, he expects the bridge to be largely complete by the end of the year.

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21 comments
clay
clay

Now that one bridge is built, why can't you (the Observer) get behind the second bridge.  It would take Dallas into the 21st century in epic, Texas sized splendour.  Who cares what it costs.  Charge a toll to cross it till it's paid for, raise money through non-profit charities, sell naming rights, ask for Dallas fat cats to pay a little.  The first bridge is beautiful, the second would be fantastic and the third would be heavenly.  There you are, shovel ready projects.  Why are you *(the Observer) so shortsighted, these bridges will outlast all of us.  When did Dallas become the can't do city.  (Can't lure the Rangers, can't build Cowboy Stadium in Fair Park, wonder who got paid to build the new convention center hotel) I hate what Dallas has become, we used to stand for Texas now we lay down at the first sign of challenge.  Shame on ya'll, shame on us.  Build the Bridge.

lorlee
lorlee

I am still pushing for Bridge on the River Crap since 90% of the flow during the summer is upstream treated effluent.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

Does anyone else see a problem with the use of PVC in construction of a bridge?  Is this common? I like PVC for plumbing and kids' soccer goals... just not so sure how it'll stand up in the elements long-term for bridge construction.  Hopefully I'm just misinformed about the greatness of PVC.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (1927) and the M-machine. Just sayin'.

Urbanisto
Urbanisto

I agree with Wylie. In fact, I think we should dismantle DFW Airport, the American Airlines Center, the libraries, Turtle Creek and all of Fair Park and give the public monies spent on them to those who know better how to apply such funds.

I know, let's give all those taxpayer dollars to Angela Hunt, or John Wiley Price, because we all know those "representatives of the little people" are responsible for making happen in Dallas such renowned civic projects as...um...well...uh...

Thelisma Partridge
Thelisma Partridge

This bridge was supposed to be open this fall, but has now been delayed until some time in 2012.  The official reason is "weather delays".  Don't you believe it.  Tests with skilled commuters driving cars across the bridge has shown it to be too dangerous, even in the far right "bypass" lane.  The bridge will remain closed while the city hires more consultants to study the bridge design and recommend costly changes to be implemented before the bridge is open to the public.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

And the documentation for this is where? I think we would like ot read that, as taxpayers....

Jim
Jim

Diane - Me thinks that Thelsima is poking some fun at the whitewater fiasco on the Trinity.

Ahkgk
Ahkgk

i wonder how much wai waize got out of this bridge building deal

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Just imagine what Dallas could have done if all the incremental money that was expended to make this bridge some sort of architectural statement rather had been deployed into things that would have improved the quality of the City's urban infrastructure/quality of life.

Marvin
Marvin

When I was in high school, my friends brother inherited his mom's four door family sedan when she got a new car, and he put a fake scoop on the hood to make it look like a hot rod. There was talk of a rear spoiler, but I don't think it ever happened.

Sometimes Dallas just tries too hard.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

All that money.... for a huge paperclip trapped in a hairnet. The IUD in the sky.

John in Pilot Point
John in Pilot Point

(The sun would ultimately killed the clouds we saw.)

Should read (The sun would ultimately kill the clouds we saw.)

or

(The sun ultimately killed the clouds we saw.)

Otherwise, nice writing, as has been noted.

Downtown_worker
Downtown_worker

Any idea if the lights illuminating the bridge's underside will be color-changing LEDs? That would be pretty neat.

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