Sorry, Belo, But I Can't Sign Off On Your Stance That Dallas Needs Another "Signature" Bridge

OK, wait, wait, wait. Sorry. I don't get it. I need a little catch-up here. The second Calatrava fake suspension "signature bridge" across the Trinity is going to be a bicycle bridge?

A bicycle bridge?

We're going to spend more than $100 million in tax money to build a make-believe suspension bridge across the Trinity River for bicycles? Do you remember anybody ever telling us that?

No. Look, I'm sure. The Park Cities Ladies Guild -- that's not the right name, I'll think of it -- the private group pushing for "signature bridges" downtown never once told us that one of them was going to be a $100 million-plus bicycle bridge.

The Trinity Trust Foundation -- that's the name. They're the ones who want these signature bridges ... wait a minute, wait a minute, what does that even mean? What is a signature bridge? Is that like a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt? With a little insignia on it?

In this case the insignia they want is the name of Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish high-fashion architect who designs stringy sort of flingy-dingy wingy-looking things. His name and designs are what would make something a signature bridge, as opposed to a bridge bridge.

Individual bridges are actually being named after rich ladies. The first one, already going up, is called the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The next one, the one for bicycles, will be called the Margaret McDermott Bridge. The families of these ladies have kicked in large sums of money for the naming rights but nothing like what you and I are kicking in as taxpayers.

The McDermott Bridge was originally supposed to be a freeway bridge. But to make it a signature freeway bridge, instead of a freeway freeway bridge, we taxpayers were going to have to kick in something on the order of two to three hundred million extra in tax money.

Extra. For the signature.

Now the plans for a second Calatrava freeway bridge have fallen apart, so the new idea, apparently, is for a Calatrrava bicycle bridge. But nobody ever quite says it like that. In an editorial last week, The Dallas Morning News said, "The city's new goal is to apply Calatrava designs to pedestrian/bike elements of the project, either incorporated into the service roads, which hug the main bridges on separate spans, or as a standalone structure."

Bicycle bridge.

Caltrava is demanding $10 million just to re-draw his fling-dingy wingy thing from a freeway bridge to a bicycle bridge. Then apparently the city council hopes to spend another $92 million in transportation money from Congress building whatever he draws.

Last week the entire council except for Angela Hunt voted for this idea.

When my wife and I walk in our neighborhood, we have to walk out in the street, because the sidewalks are worse than anything I have ever seen in Mexico. The city has been slashing expenditures for streets, libraries and parks for 10 years. Next year it faces a possible $60-million to $100-million shortfall in a basic operations and maintenance budget of $400 million -- 25 percent. And the council just voted for a $100-million-plus bicycle bridge.

Of the three real mayoral candidates, only David Kunkle has come out against this kind of stuff. Ron Natinsky is solidly in favor of it. And Mike Rawlings, a member of the Dallas Citizens Council where most of these ideas originate, won't say.

I don't know why the damn bicycle bridge isn't the main issue in this election.

And if we can't do a damn thing to stop it, and if we're going to have these stringy thingys all up and down the river while the city crumbles into the dust, I think we should go ahead and name them for the Park Cities ladies' party names. You know, like the names you see in the captions for the party pix in D?

We could have the Bootsy Tuppinflipper Bridge, the Kitten McWhippin Bridge, the Sha-Sha Hunt-Crow-Zamboni Bridge and on and on. Might as well play to the stereotype, if that's the way we're going to roll. We should put up billboards outside of town: "Welcome to Dallas, World's String-Dingiest City."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze