How the Price Tag of the Margaret McDermott Bridge Increased by 25 Percent Overnight

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Nearly two years ago, the City Council approved a scaled down version of the Margaret McDermott Bridge, the second of the signature Santiago Calatrava-designed spans across the Trinity River. That was accompanied by a promise by City Manager Mary Suhm that no city funds would be used for the project, which replaces the aging I-30 bridge.

Yesterday afternoon, council members learned that won't be the case. Assistant City Manager Jill Jordan told members of the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee that the cost of the bridge won't be in the neighborhood of $91.3 million, the city had previously estimated and for which federal funds have already been allocated, but $114.9. For those of you doing the math at home, that's a 26-percent increase.

To cover the resulting funding shortfall, the city is forced to get creative. The Regional Transportation Council has allocated $11.6 million to fill half the hole, according to yesterday's briefing. The rest comes from donations (the city has been sitting on a $5 million gift from the Trinity Trust Foundation and just received a $450,000 pledge from the Dallas Foundation for the promised bicycle and pedestrian improvements); $1.9 million in bond funds originally earmarked for public art projects; and cost savings from "value engineering" totaling $3.8 million, as Wilonsky noted over the weekend,

The question remains: How did the city come up with such an atrociously bad estimate of the bridge's cost? The $91.3 million figure isn't a relic of the distant past but was made by a contractor about a year ago. And the real estimate was $86 million, with the extra set aside for "cost overruns."

Then, TxDOT put out the bid for the Horseshoe Project -- the massive Mixmaster redesign of which the Margaret McDermott Bridge is a part -- and the span's cost came in at $114.9 million.

The focus of yesterday's committee meeting was on how good a deal the city's getting. Councilwoman Delia Jasso b lamed the added cost on the vagaries of the construction market and stressed what a good deal the city was getting for spending only $1.9 million of its own money.

"We never signed on a dotted line" on the original estimate, Jasso said. "We've gotta take our licks."

Jordan echoed that point.

"As a region, we should be celebrating that we're getting the bridge we all wanted and it's costing the region $20 million than we thought it was going to," she said.

Councilwoman Angela Hunt acknowledged that the deal still looks like a great deal for the city, at least on paper.

"What that point misses is our congressional leaders and our city staff could have led a robust effort to fix other major roadways in and around Dallas to the tune of $114 million," Councilwoman Angela Hunt told Unfair Park. Instead, we're getting another expensive bauble.


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33 comments
kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

You people and yer f+cking bridges!  Holy sh+t, just build a million dollar bridge, and spend the rest on that aching and rusted hulk you call Dallas schools, potholes the size of Lake Minnetonka and urban blight (I 45 corridor, Hines corridor, 5 Points, etc.). 


FEDUP
FEDUP

Get rid of all that GD wasted metal above it and just build a good ole CONCRETE NEW bridge . this aint fuckin rocket science people. IT'S A FUCKING BRIDGE JUST BUILD IT THE SAME WAY AND LOOKS OF THE CURRENT ONE................YOU FUCKING MORONS! Its for TRAFFIC NOT FUCKING ART!!!!


markzero
markzero

 $1.9 million in bond funds originally earmarked for public art projects

I wonder how they get away with this. Remember this the next time they come asking for money.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

I'm gonna build me a ferry. Take ya'll across for fiffy cents. Trucks a dalla.

WylieH
WylieH

Meanwhile, major portions of Uptown, an area packed with high density residential, office and retail developments are left begging for basic amenities like sidewalks, pedestrian crossing signals or even adequate pavement markings.

The total cost for to address the most chronic deficiencies would be only a few hundred thousand dollars, but every time anyone approaches the Mary Suhm administration for help, they encounter a toxic mix of incompetence, laziness and indifference-- all the while, they shrug their shoulders and say that nothing can be done 'cause the City is brokester.

ruddski
ruddski

In related news, Tanya Angus has died.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@WylieH I really like how you beat the drum for your/that neighborhood, but seriously, the 30 bridge needs replaced before it collapses into the Trinity sometime next year.

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz nah. how about Laura Miller destroyed Dallas bridge?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz sweet, they can stage a bridge opening where all the cat ladies bring their kitties to cross the bridge, then we blow that fucker up thereby ridding ourselves of hundreds of bat shit crazy cat ladies all at once

Bremarks
Bremarks

@WylieH @clifford.carpenter @ScottsMerkin Many in Oaklawn/Uptown have been begging City Hall to do one simple little thing -- add turn signals to the lights on McKinney Avenue so that traffic can move and not back up to the point that it gridlocks, which it does every single day numerous times during the day.  And once the new Gables/Whole Foods is open, it will be an even bigger F-Upped mess.  It would require a bit of money.  But we can't get it.  Maybe we should demand it from the public art fund.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@WylieH Uptown has an affluent resident population.  It should be easy to organize yourselves and put pressure on the city for the amenities you want.  

WylieH
WylieH

@clifford.carpenter @ScottsMerkin @WylieH I don't dispute that the bridge needs to be replaced, and I have been a long-time supporter of Project Pegasus.  What I question is the use of discretionary money to fund the decorative elements associated with the I-30 bridge.  In contrast to the core funds for the base bridge (which are largely federal and state monies which would be difficult to reprogram), the funds supporting the "artsy" part of the bridge come from a variety of discretionary pockets.

There doesn't seem to be any rational weighting of alternative uses for these "extra" monies.  Millions and millions seems to get tossed towards the bridge without much care--- at the same time, other core services are stripped to the bone and beyond.

Who set's the priorities?  Why is it that within the City of Dallas, multi-million dollar bridges of questionable aesthetic merit with unproven abilities to drive economic development are prioritized over things that have a demonstrated track record of driving growth and development--- things like well-maintained arterial streets, pocket parks, and other infrastructure, high quality municipal services, etc.

The City of Dallas seems to have a track record of spending large sums on blockbuster projects, TIFs, etc., while at the same time scrimping on the essentials that make a City truly liveable and desirable on a day-to-day basis.

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @ScottsMerkin @NewsDog or the fed takes yer ammo..

clevertrousers
clevertrousers

@NewsDog @ScottsMerkin @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz she would...

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Amen.  Didn't Kansas just enact a law prohibiting the keeping of more than two cats in a home?  Some people can't control their obsessive need to collect cats.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin @NewsDog The trick is to never let the cats take over to a point where you can't handle the boxes, the cleaning, the feeding, and the Vet care.  One cat too many is when order and cleanliness break down. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz 1 or 2 is ok, anymore than that...well you know how i feel lol.  I always tell my mom she is 1 cat away from be the crazy cat lady of her neighborhood

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

And to "iwearblack":  You don't have to tag your "like" to all the horrible things the trolls say to me.  Feh!

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz c'mon, that shits funny!  Nah I was awoken by thunder sleet instead of my 7 month old, so im in a great mood today

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