The Calatrava Isn't a Bridge; It's a Bridgehead for Developers

Categories: Schutze

SHZ_GetOffMyLawn_TitleImageV2.jpg
I am terribly embarrassed by the short film I offered here yesterday about driving over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge for the first time. The comments on my cinematography, direction, editing and narration have been scathing, scathing! Shockingly caustic. I just feel utterly scathed.

I get the message, people. It's back to film school for this cowboy. And actually, I never went to film school. And I'm not a cowboy. So you see the effect this has had.

I'm also in big trouble for showing the inside of my house while my wife was out of town and after I had emptied an entire storage room of useless crap into the entryway. But I will say this about that. She should have thought about that before she left me here alone with my demons. By which I mean her dogs.

Much more important, however, is this: There is a point to be made, in fact, about my adventures crossing the new Santiago Calatrava cable-stayed bridge, which joins the Woodall Rodgers Freeway on the north end of downtown to ... to ... to ...?

You see. It's just as I suspected from the beginning. I proved it to myself by driving over the new bridge only hours after it opened for the first time to vehicular traffic. It is, indeed, a bridge to ...

?

But, wait. Let's not get hoodwinked into the very ruse the bridge-builders intend. According to them, if I say the bridge is a bridge to nowhere, the bridge-builders will shout that I am calling West Dallas nowhere. And West Dallas is a place where a lot of working-class Hispanic people live. Hence, if I say the bridge is a bridge to nowhere, I am calling working class Hispanic people nobody. Hence I am a racist blockhead.

audience jim.jpg
Unfair Park's prescreening test audience reacts to a showing of Jim's latest video masterwork.
Puleeeeze. In the first place, there was already a bridge to this very point. It is called the Continental Bridge. It's still there. It crosses from West Dallas to Irving Boulevard and the Stemmons Expressway -- a good way to get to work.

Under the current plan, the Continental Bridge, which used to be a good way to get to work, will be converted to a linear park like the High Line in New York -- a good place for aerobic lunge-walking. One does not anticipate seeing great numbers of Hispanic working-class persons out aerobic lunge-walking to work in the new linear park, because, after all, they still need their cars on the other side.

Can they drive to work on the new Calatrava bridge? Not really. But if they quit work, they could pass their days lunge-walking and then pop onto the Calatrava to the arts district for a thing at the opera. All they would need for that, after all, is money.

Let's be serious. This bridge goes nowhere. That is even the point of the thing. Its very purpose is to create a new somewhere where that somewhere does not now exist. That somewhere will have nothing to do with the people of West Dallas. It will supplant them. It is the sworn foe of West Dallas, as West Dallas exists today.

Is it wrong to use public money to spur development? Maybe not. But we might ask ourselves how that idea is working out elsewhere. In a column for next week's paper, I will look at the public money invested so far in the development around the basketball arena.

Usually somebody wants to use public money to distort the market more than help it along. We have a ton of fancy-schmancy new high-rise buildings on the downtown side of the river, a lot if them basically sucking wind in a weak market anyway.

So tell me again why we need more of it on the other side of the river? No, seriously, tell me. I'm curious.

It's not that there isn't some very cool stuff happening over there. But the best things taking place -- like Monte Anderson's Commerce Street Airstream business park -- are organic and incremental. They are cunningly tied to what's going on over there anyway already. They don't need a big screaming bridge crashing into the shore like a beached battleship.

In fact the bridge is their enemy, too, insofar as it threatens them with typical Galleria-style North Dallas 1980s glitzoid crap development. Which it does.

What I found in driving over there was what anybody could figure out from Google maps. The thing goes nowhere. There is no there there yet. And if and when there is a there there, it will not be the there that's there now.

So did we need a new there there? More to the point, did we want to pay for it with our tax money?

The hat-cam is sort of addictive. It makes me want to drive around town with my window rolled down yelling, "Cut!" If I do that, I will share, but this time it will be very Sundance. Very Sundance. I shall be praised. You shall see. Respect.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
95 comments
Andrea_trevino33
Andrea_trevino33

I personally like the idea of the bridge. I don't believe 'it' takes you nowhere. Dallas needs improvements!

Karenjuarez18
Karenjuarez18

the city of Dallas is just wasting money for no reason. this new bridge suppost to bring tourist to Dallas but its not going to work. the city of Dallas should just spend the money on different organization to help the people of Dallas in need.

Jose Rodriguez

Karenjuarez18
Karenjuarez18

We the people have more to worry about and not just the bridge ... This bridge was just waist of time and money, the money "our money" was need for houses, new jobs, next time you know the taxes are going to rise so they "the government" could recover "our money".

Dimitrewells
Dimitrewells

 wellsThe crime in West Dallas is rediculous. At the corner of Singleton and Hampton a homeless man ran out into the street and tried to attack my vehicle with his shirt! Am I going to want to go to Dallas again? Hell no... Hunt Hill Bridge for now is just an alt route to I-30 via Beckley.

dimitre wells
dimitre wells

my name is dimitre wellsThe crime in West Dallas is rediculous. At the corner of Singleton and Hampton a homeless man ran out into the street and tried to attack my vehicle with his shirt! Am I going to want to go to Dallas again? Hell no... Hunt Hill Bridge for now is just an alt route to I-30 via Beckley.

Stenly P.
Stenly P.

Besides being visually appealing and adding to Dallas' rather bleak skyline, the bridge is actually quite useful.  I love the ease of getting onto Woodall Rodgers from Oak Cliff.  Also, coming from Woodall to Oak Cliff is quite nice as well; I get to avoid the 35 bottleneck.

Mark4124
Mark4124

The crime in West Dallas is rediculous. At the corner of Singleton and Hampton a homeless man ran out into the street and tried to attack my vehicle with his shirt! Am I going to want to go to Dallas again? Hell no... Hunt Hill Bridge for now is just an alt route to I-30 via Beckley.

Tmegahan
Tmegahan

Thanks Jim, and City of Dallas, for giving my kids at Adamson High School a relevant topic for our NIMBY discussions in Environmental Systems. There have been hypothetical letters, arguments in class, and cost/benefit analyses. As you can see, most of my students don't see this as a cost-effective improvement.    

The drive across was admittedly underwhelming. The first day was particularly upsetting as no one was apparently PAID to remove the detour signs that made you feel that the Continental Loop was a necessity.

Jim, I hope that all that turbulence didn't force your tongue completely through your cheek. The helmet cam is delightful, and I'd love to borrow it for class one day.

I noticed on my decided detour back from Singelton that the Shepard Fairey appliqué below the Bellmont has exceeded it's half-life. Let's hope the beauty of the MHH doesn't prove as short- lived. I must say the bridge, when lit and cycling through colors, reminds me of the fiber-optic color fountains of the early eighties. We probably will look back and wonder what on earth we were thinking when we bought that thing.  

Sam
Sam

Actually the bridge is partly responsible for a spate of new construction on the downtown and uptown side - an  astounding number of projects have recently been announced and they will all have a view of the MHH.   It's already paid for itself even if nothing happens in West Dallas.

FRANK MATA
FRANK MATA

All the bridge is, is a waste of money. It's just a sight to look at and nothing more.

Frank Mata

FRANK MATA
FRANK MATA

It sucked for the public because of the way John Ware wrote the terms of the agreement.

FRANK MATA
FRANK MATA

It sucked for the public because of the way John Ware wrote the terms of the agreement.

SAMMY
SAMMY

Absolutely. The new bridge is a joke. Take the viaduct or Continental Street Bridge if you want to get anywhere DUHHHHH!!!!!

SAMMY ADAME 

guest
guest

I thing need more of it on the other side of the rive.That is exactly what's happening in West Dallas, and no one is building affordable housing for displaced people.The drive to the tollway from Sylvan was considerably worse going over the bridge as it would have been just the old fashioned way over the..                                                                                               Jesus Gutierrez

Alejandramend
Alejandramend

I do not agree with the terms of the agreements. It should be more detailed. Monica Martinez.

Alejandramend
Alejandramend

it is a waste of money -Alejandra Mendoza 1st period enviormental systems

Babhi_jane214
Babhi_jane214

ithink its a good idea too open the new brigde because thiers more places to go to♥juanita 1st period

Manuel_hernandez94
Manuel_hernandez94

I think the bridge was a waste of money because that many cars don't even pass through there.

Viankamacias
Viankamacias

I think that it's efficient for cars to have more ways to go through, despite that large amount of money used to build it.

Jonathanrodriguez98
Jonathanrodriguez98

to be honest i its a waste of money jonathan rodriguez "Big Happy"1st period 

Linomartinez99
Linomartinez99

its wack a bunch of bull waste of money and thinking its to late for this. thoughts of them using our money useful then the bridge.

lino martinez 1st period class

Kevin T.
Kevin T.

This bridge was a big mistake not something that was not neccesary.

Bob
Bob

Long before there was a Calatrava Bridge, long before there was a Trinity River Project, long before there was a Dallas, cities grew and declined for many reasons.  In older cities, these changes (up AND down) appear more clearly to be inevitable.  "Urban planning" is more of a myth than a reality, since many disparate forces are at work in any given area at any given time. 

Dallas's short history manifests the existence of these changes like every other growing, developing city.   What used to be Little Mexico is now in the upscale area of Uptown.  What used to be the prime row of residential mansions along Ross Ave.  became entirely commercial, and downscale.  What used to be prime multi-family housing in the Vickery Meadow area now resembles the slums of a third-world country.  Henderson Avenue, Fitzhugh, and Bennett are now seeing their downscale aged apartments transformed into denser and costlier residential districts as well as business districts. 

Neighborhoods where the residents and business owners have successfully maintained their areas in relatively stable condition exist all over the city, but they require a level of commitment on the party of the interested owners and tenants, as well as the City government, that is not easy to establish or to sustain.  The East Dallas historic conservation districts are prime examples of the successful ones, but except for the restricted historical districts, even they have not been able to conquer the invasion of the McMansions.

The consequences of the Bridge, the consequences of the exploitation of properties by homeowners, investors, landlords and tenants, the consequences of the building or rebuilding of infrastructure by the City, along with all the other market forces at work in the area will determine what West Dallas will become, and how it will get there. Like every other major shift in municipal development, some will profit and some will lose.  That's life in the big city.

Lolotehe
Lolotehe

What I'm hoping is the new bridge improves what the old bridge did.

It used to be I had two choices for getting from Oak Cliff to North Dallas: take 30 through the mix-master and fight with traffic getting on 35-N to Woodall to get to Central; or take Continental across to Industrial and get on the ramp to Woodall from there. If the bridge can get me to Woodall, and thus Central, it's doing its job. 

I'm just glad the construction is mostly done. I do find it interesting that the path from West to East was opened first. It's almost a metaphor for where the money is moving.

S Aten
S Aten

I thought Jim Schutze did a good job for a first try at filming using his hat camera.   His jerky film tecnique was no worse than the Blair Witch project or several other films that I seen recently that are supposedly trying to be more real.  As for the "String Bridge".  I think the city should be required to do a post construction cost analysis for the number of vehicles vs the cost of the bridge.   The Continental bridge never had traffic problems even on Friday afternoon rush hour until they started the "String Bridge".    As for development in West Dallas, I guess most of the buyers will be from out of town and clueless to the contamination problems in the soil.

yes
yes

while it obviously has some drawbacks, I think the bridge is great.  I live in NOC and work in richardson and the bridge has cut 15 minutes off my commute _to_ work.  On the way back, not quite so much, but still a noticeable cut.  I'm sure once they finish with the construction on woodall it won't be quite so thick going from 75 to back to NOC in the afternoon rush.

Pennywhistle
Pennywhistle

The area that has largely bought up by West Dallas Investments is not an area where many fee simple owners live in their homes.  This is the case further to the north and west, but not near the bridge.  That area has already been commercial and industrial property in many cases, lots that were never developed, or rental properties that are code nightmare.   The city of Dallas has the highest taxes in the region and worst level of service:  maybe some additional tax base would be helpful.  Finally, the owners that have sold have done so at a large profit. 

Dalguy
Dalguy

It is not a bridge to nowhere.  It is a bridge to Ray's Gun Shop!

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

Just throwin' out my two cents... I'm a West Dallas resident (and not a landowner) and am already in love with that new bridge. No, it doesn't get me to downtown faster (Commerce, Continental, or even the viaduct do that), but it sure does get me to and from 75 in a blink of an eye. All I keep thinking each time I make that connection to/from Woodall is, "Woo-wee beeyatches!!"

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

High-end gentrification will happen regardless. The core ofthe city is attractive again and unfortunately, the poor will be displaced tothe suburbs. Gentrification has never been an easy task. All I want is a decent grocery store (not Walmart), a corner starbucks,  a walking trail, a Chase Bank, and nearby bus stop to get me to the train station. If I can get this in  old East Oak Cliff within a 1 mile walking distance, then I'm good.By the way, I think ya'll are being too hard on Jim with this post.....He does a good job

Mavdog
Mavdog

It has been interesting to read the articles in DMN which on the one hand talk about the bridge on such glowing terms one could imagine the author of the story actually shedding tears of joy at the beauty of that structure, and then at the same time the article talking about the need to preserve the West Dallas community and it's current residents.

The two are mutually exclusive, those residents in West Dallas didn't ask nor need a $200 million bridge, they already had a bridge taking them in and out of the neighborhood (see Continental Ave), what those good people in West Dallas could have used with that $200 million is better streets, flood control and new water/sewer utilities.

The irony of course is when the developers all come to the city asking for their money from the city (see Sylvan/30 for an illustration) those new streets, flood control and utility lines will be put in...only those current residents of West Dallas will have been pushed out by then so the new development of uptown-esque housing and upscale cafes can happen.

You make a lot of good points Jim. It's not the "bridge to nowhere", but it's the "bridge that was never needed".

Dallas Diner
Dallas Diner

Thanks Jim.  Every day I go to work up Singleton cross the Continental Bridge, go straight, turn left of Ross.  I still haven't figured out how in hell the Calatrava bridge is supposed to hook into the downtown street system; I can't figure out how I'm supposed to get to work on it, much less get home.  Am I supposed to get on Woodall Rogers and then exit?  If so, what a brilliant plan to move all those city street drivers to a limited access highway.  

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

Jim, you're gonna have to be sent to 'Dallas Booster Re-Education Camp'. Comrade, you are straying too far from the party's line. How do you ever expect to get a "real job" at the DMN with all these post you write? You're gonna want a family one day, Schutze, and those things cost. Do you think working at this free rag is gonna pay for one? It's time to grow up, put on your big boy pants, and slap a few Dallas Cowboy stickers on the bumper of your pick'em truck.

JimS
JimS

Thank you once again, Bob, for saying absolutely nothing.

RTGolden
RTGolden

What an elitist statement.  Basically you're saying that, as long as you get the things you desire, to hell with everyone without the monetary means to keep what they have.  

What makes more sense: lets move all these people here out..... somewhere (it's not really important where they go, as long as they do), so we can have a whole foods and a starbucks here for this guy; or, let this guy move to where there is a starbucks and a whole foods, and let all these other people continue to live where they've been living for years.

I hope they put a gas rig right next to your starbucks.

Bob
Bob

My nothing is better than your nothing.

Sidewalkastronomer
Sidewalkastronomer

Sorry to say but Urbandweller203 is right about what is going to happen. It has been already reported that there are plans for new restaurants and such near the bridge. Property taxes will rise soon after and the outward migration of the poor will begin. If there are any neighborhood activists that can organize protests, that might slow the change some, but won't stop it. Renters don't have much say like home owners do. I believe developers saw this area as easy picking and bought up a lot of the property. The bridge main purpose is to help accelerate development of their properties.

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

Even my 75 year old mom wants a grocery store, somewhere safe to walk, a bank thats close and she loves the hell out of those sugar laced frapruccino's and she is far from hell an elitist. You should see her sitting in Starbuck in Uptown enjoying the people. Now she takes her laptop to play games.....Our family have been a landowner since the late 40's, when there were all of the things I mentioned above; and we didn't have to be an elitist to have a Safeway in the hood. Are you saying people that live in the hood should not want a starbucks or a decent store other than Family Dollar. That's messed up RT. "THE GAS IS TOO DAMN HIGH"  to drive across town to a decent grocery store.  After 40+ years of bad leadership and no viable development in the heart of the city, what the heck suppose to happen. At some point things will have to change, it's happening in every major city. The days are gone for concentrated ghetto's.

I say to the mayor "bring in the wrecking ball and the dump trucks" and get the right zoned business in place and create safe and clean communities.

Mavdog
Mavdog

to be honest, after reading the opening statement of "high end gentrification will happen regardless", what did you expect from the rest of the post?

to summarize their outlook, "all the world needs is a double mocha low fat caramel macchiato and everyone would be soooo happy.."

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

I will never overcome wanting the better things in life, wanting a better neighborhood that I pay the same amount of taxes like everyone else. This is why I work hard, to have those "things" that make my life better. You can't make me feel guilty nor  feel shame for looking out for me and my investment in my community.  Mavdog based on your comments, I can appreciate your concern for us low-er income folk, but we are not down in the dumps being happy with whatever "Mr. Charlie" wants to throw our way.

I hear you and can relate and understand the good and the bad of gentrification, new development, etc., but there's nothing that can be done because the train has left the station.

Mavdog
Mavdog

I'm sure that with some hard work you can overcome that terrible case of myopia that you suffer from.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

Exactly. Now, we can move the poor out to the burbs, so us, better educated and better monied, can enjoy the city. It's a win-win. We're not running from the lower economic folks....we're just redistributing them! HeHe:)

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

For some reason my coffee cost 1.79, not bad for the atmosphere and the free wi-fi. I think we always assume that low income folk can't afford nothing or that they are not willing to buy $3 coffee. Starbucks or similar places sell more than a cup of coffee; it's a gathering place.  Put a Starbucks in the area and check out the response.  I get your point on the West Dallas stats, but there are lot of cities making gentrification work. I'm not sure how they are doing it, but its working and the low income "homeowners" are blending right in. I have a colleage who is a dentist living next door to a renter on section 8 with three little ones. Turns out, she convinced her to get a GED....I think we need to change our way at looking at low income people and what they should or should not have. Check out the folk near Bexar Street in South Dallas. Those long time homeowners are happy as hell to finally get some action in their neighborhood.

The issue is that a lot of these low income people will scatter throughout the city, maybe closer to their job, maybe to the suburbs to rent those bank forclosed property Bank of America is so willing to rent. Maybe the surbubian people want the poor to stay in the inner city. Maybe there is a better life in another area.

This thought pattern that on has to be an elitist to drink coffee at Starbucks, or be a snob because one wants to go to college to educate themselves is flawed thinking.

Development must happen and will happen. As the population grows, people are moving back to the city, especially younger people, college grads, retired people, etc.. They are not willing to run away from low income folk and live in the suburbs as they once did or as their parents.  I strongly believe low income people (homeowners)  can blend with open minded professionals.

 Give it time to blend and it will work.

Mavdog
Mavdog

here is the reality:In west Dallas there are approx. 20,000 people living in approx. 6,700 households. These households earn a median annual income of $17,922. So that is just about $18 grand to support a family that averages about 3.5 people.

About 1/3 are owners and 2/3 are renters. Average home value is $49,200. 68% hispanic, 38% african american. About 33% of the adult pop never went past the 9th grade, 38% made it to high school but didn't graduate, 25% got a HS diploma, 3% got a college education.

Think they're buying any $3 coffee?

Do you really think they would be upset if a WalMart opened in their neighborhood? They would be happy to get a modern, low cost grocery.There would be a celebration!

If the housing in the neighborhood was torn down for the "gentrification" you are so fond of, where will these families move?  It's pretty darn impossible to build housing that only costs $50K.

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...