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City Proposes Redesign of Second Calatrava Bridge to Green-Light Construction in Mid-2012 and Add Pedestrian and Bicycle Components

Following Thursday afternoon's presser celebrating the anticipated approval of a plan to restore the Trinity River levee system's 100-year flood protection, we asked City Manager Mary Suhm about the progress of the Margaret McDermott Bridge -- the second Santiago Calatrava-designed bridge that will replace the current IH-30 bridge.

After all, construction was once expected to begin this year, and council member Ron Natinsky at a March 23 mayoral debate said the funding gap had nearly been filled by private donations. Texas Department of Transportation's Bill Hale, the district engineer for the Dallas District, also told us one month ago the stage agency was proceeding without the city's involvement in a signature bridge because "they haven't ID'd the dollars to cover that, so we're designing it as a normal structure."

Suhm said she expected bids for construction to begin in mid-2012 but wouldn't elaborate on exactly how the funding would fall into place, claiming no city funds would be used to pay for the bridge.

"I'm working on it, OK?" she said when asked where the dough's coming from. "I don't have an answer."

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So we were surprised Friday evening to see Tuesday's upcoming Trinity River Corridor Project Committee briefing, which outlines a plan to break ground in mid-2012. The revised budget for the project isn't revealed in the presentation, but it says $92 million has been secured by area members of Congress "for the signature component" of the bridge, which has "reached the end of its useful life." City officials have indicated they believe the signature element of the bridge will attract economic development.

In an email to Unfair Park, Suhm stresses she told us the city was working on a solution. "It's a way from being all put together, but [I] wanted to tell council what direction we were headed."

The new plan aims to reduce the bridge's cost (although exactly how isn't clear), expedite its construction and add pedestrian and bicycle components. If the project partners agree to the redo, the city council is set to vote April 13 on a $5 million grant from the Trinity Trust Foundation, along with a revised $8 million contract with Calatrava.

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