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The Dallas Morning News is Just Shocked the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Cost So Much

The Dallas Morning News has a big shocker headline -- a World-War-II-typeface, breathless, this-just-in, oh-my-God headline -- on the front of today's newspaper: "True Cost of Dallas' Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge: $182 million." The News tells us: "The new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge will cost far more than the $117 million price tag repeatedly touted by city and state officials over the past several years." Ironically, it appears in newsstands behind a flier touting Sunday's Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge "tribute section."

Sorry. Can't bite my tongue on this. Look. This is a story the Observer first reported to you in 1999. That would be ... what? ... counting on my fingers here ... about 13 years ago?

Then we reported it again in 2000. Then in 2001. Again in 2002. Once more with feeling in 2003.

Again in 2004 (that was a favorite of mine, also reporting that the socialites pushing the Calatrava bridge concept had skipped on an $80,000 bill they owed the city for a promotional party they threw using city facilities and manpower. Skipped. Never paid it.).

Once more in 2004. Then we really got busy. Between 2005 and 2011, we reported this story another 14 times.

Some of these were detailed reports, explaining why the costs were soaring and what the money was being spent on. Some of them were kind of drive-by, expressing exasperation over the fact that the city kept low-balling the cost of the bridge for the public and The Dallas Morning News kept refusing to do the math at all.

So today they do the math. Finally. You will have to forgive me if I sort of read The News in code, looking between the lines for meaning the way citizens of the old Soviet regime read their national newspapers, Pravda and Izvestia. Habit.

I take it that the state highway department must have put together some kind of final tally for the Hunt Hill Bridge, and they must have told somebody at The News they were going to have to make it public. They sure didn't want to give the story to us.

So they filtered it through their own newspaper, The Dallas Morning Pravda. And after 13 years of refusing to cover the story, we get a shocked-shocked gambling at Rick's Cafe story on Page One.

In the days ahead, The News will run one of their pretty-little-head editorials, I promise you, telling you not to worry, that this is all state money or federal money or money from Heaven, some crap like that.

There is no money from heaven. All they hand out up there is mercy. Try paying for a bridge with that.

Even when it is state and federal money, it all comes out of our share of total state or federal dollars -- the money available to Dallas. If we weren't throwing it down this particular toilet, we could spend it on things we need.

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And please don't get taken in by that lie about private donations covering the overrun. We first reported here 13 years ago that the cost for a non-Calatrava regular old state freeway bridge would have been in the low 30 millions, as opposed to the $187 million the Calatrava version is costing us. That fact is confirmed in today's Morning News story.

That's a premium of $150 to $160 million for the Calatrava version. The private donations are about $12 million -- less than 10 percent of the cost overrun.

Think about it this way. What is the city council's damn job? To lie to you? What is the job of the mayor of Dallas? What is the job of the city's only daily newspaper? Is it to treat you like a child and never tell you the truth?

This is simple. Those bastards are not supposed to con us to our faces. That's just exactly what they have done. And this story on the front page of The News, pretending to be shocked about the whole thing, is one more level of the con.

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