Saturday, November 26, 2022 Nov 26, 2022
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BRIDGES OF DALLAS COUNTY

A Spanish architect has a startling vision for Dallas-five steel mountains spanning the Trinity River.
By Sherri Daye |

They will stand 15 stories high, steel mountains spanning the Trinity, rivaling downtown Dallas in their size, and bridging the south with the north. The largest will rise 2(H) feel above the river, visible from as far mirth as Preston (“enter, and dominating views of the city’s approach from the south and the west. For the three million expected travelers who pass through the five silvered arches each year, they will he dramatic entryways to the skyline that rises from the plains.

How did these bridges-unheard of only this spring- come to be the talk of the town this summer?

Dallas is the beneficiary of a coincidence of timing-and one man’s vacation.

As it happens, live new bridges are planned to he built over the Trinity. The new Trinity plan calls for two new loll bridges to span the river. Meanwhile, the city has already committed money to extend Woodall Rogers over the river to relieve congestion at the downtown mixmaster. A routine inquiry by the city’s outside consultants to the Texas Department of Transportation brought news that the federal and stale governments planned to tear up and replace existing bridges on Stem mon s (1-3?) and on the old Turnpike (1-30) over the next live years. Five bridges, to be constructed at nearly the same lime, at close to the same place. Most likely, they would have been standard, run-of-lhe-niil!.move-the-hariie. job-to-the-lowest-bidder bridges if Joe Novoa hadn’t decided to lake his vacation last June in Bilbao. Spain.

“I went to see the new Guggenheim Museum.” says Novoa. chairman of Halff &. Associates, the lead engineering firm on the Trinity project. “Bui all I could see were bridges, beautiful, stunning bridges. And alt I could think was: who designed these bridges?”

The Bilbao bridges were (he work of 48-year-old Santiago Calatrava. a Spanish-born architect with a PhD. in structural engineering. Halff & Associates immediately contacted him about joining its team for the Trinity.

Calatrava agreed to spend one night in Dallas, and much of that evening he spent wandering around the banks of the Trinity. “The first thing he said was how much of a no-man’s land the area between Oak Cliff and the rest of the city resembled. He mentioned something abbot wasted opportunities, went home to Zurich, and returned with these wonderful models.” recalls Novoa.

The most surprising element of the proposal submitted by the Trinity team is not the beauty of the bridges- Calatrava is world-famous for his designs-but the feasibility of building mem. Funding is already in place for the Woodall Rogers gateway. The two toll bridges will be funded through revenue bonds to be paid off by users, although the city may have to help finance the expected 20 percent additional cost of transforming them into Calatrava bridges. And the two interstate bridges are already in the federal and stale highway budgets.

And from the money that would have been spent anyway, with these bridges there comes a payback. Few natives realize it. but tourism is big business in Dallas, amounting to S12 billion a year, and these bridges are the biggest draws Dallas has ever conceived of building. Then there’s the impact on southern Dallas, where these landmark bridges are sure to be a catalyst for long-hoped for but never realized development.

Beautiful, huge, stunning bridges. Today the Trinity is a barren floodplain. Tomorrow it could be the center of the city.

The City Council is set to vote on the proposal al a regular meeting in August.