City Hall

Today, Details About Continental Bridge and West Dallas Gateway. Tomorrow, Renderings!

Barring an earth-shattering memo from Mary Suhm arriving in the in-box this evening, expect your Saturday-morning Unfair Park item to be filled with ... wait for it, wait for it ... conceptual renderings. But this is The Good Stuff, the real deal: the latest looks at the Continental Bridge, which will be transformed into a park, and the accompanying West Dallas Gateway. That's but one of the items of intrigue on the Trinity River Corridor Project Committee's agenda for Monday.

We haven't heard much about the $10-million project since June, when the council last took a look at some rough sketches for what the park might look like; that "Meditation Plaza" is still there. Timing's about right, though, for some more movement, given that construction was to start after the opening of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which rolls out the first weekend of March.

David Whitley, second-in-command at the Dallas CityDesign Studio at City Hall, gave us a bit of a sneak peek at the presentation he'll give to council Monday.

He says the "public input piece" of the West Dallas Gateway has been wrapped, and that Wallace Roberts Todd is finishing up its design work on both the bridge and gateway, with the expectation that the construction contract will be awarded in April. He says construction's expected to take, oh, 16 months give or take; council will be told Monday that the Continental Bridge should be open come August 2013.

But that's a short amount of time to cover a lot of moving parts: Whitley says the West Dallas Gateway will include "a combination of things -- a plaza area that can be used for a gathering space, a hike-and-bike connection from the bridge along Singleton, and there will be a small parking lot." He says TxDOT will also have to get involved, and thoroughfare amendments will need to be made since they're shutting off Continental to vehicular traffic and altering the routes on the western side of the bridge.

But what about the Riverfront side, which isn't exactly pedestrian-friendly at present? "We're configuring that to accommodate some on-street parking and drop-off area for special events," he says, "such as an art fair or some other kind of festival, anything like that." He says we'll have a better idea as soon as the briefing's posted. "Conceptual renderings," he said. I stopped listening after that.