According to a new memo from the Dallas city manager's office, the Margaret McDermott Bridge — in flux since two cables detached from its anchoring system in 2016 — still doesn't have an opening date. Testing continues, the city says, as it awaits the first batch of results from third-party wind tests conducted earlier this year.
In January, the Dallas Observer's Jim Schutze broke the story. More than two years after the bridge's final arch was lifted into place in 2015, the Margaret McDermott Bridge still wasn't open because of a series of breakdowns in its cabling system.
From Schutze's first story:
"On March 22, 2016, a rod used to adjust one of the cables holding up the bridge’s pedestrian deck cracked when the cable was twisted and vibrated by wind. The next month, on April 13, another rod cracked. On April 30, a third failed.
"There are indications that anchors at the feet of the cables also have failed.
"Testing to see if the cable rods would be strong enough in high winds, a common occurrence in this locale, was never done before the cables were installed. The cables have since been stiffened with a system of mechanical Band-Aids called dampers."
Documents given to the Observer by Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs show that while building the bridge, the city, in order to save money, skipped a stress test that could have detected the fault in the cables. According to the city, that stress test was among those completed last week.
"The current schedule for moving forward includes receipt of the initial results of these tests on May 10, 2018, and the final report including recommendations for any future activities, and related recommendations for bridge operations and maintenance is currently scheduled for receipt on May 25, 2018," Assistant City Manager Jo M. Puckett writes in the memo.
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As a third-party review team finishes testing the bridge, the Texas Department of Transportation, responsible for building the bridge but not the Santiago Calatrava-designed arches that sit on either side of it, continues to place the finishing touches, including lighting, paint and "various other punch list items" according to the city.
The $115 million decorative arches, without which there wouldn't be a cable-separation problem, never should have been tacked onto the bridge in the first place, Griggs said.
“We are not a city with a large navigable river that would warrant a suspension bridge,” he said in January. “This is Texas, not Spain.”