Thousands gathered Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Santiago Calatrava‘s Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge that connects east and west Dallas seamlessly over the Trinity River. A parade of builders, including everyone from those to poured the concrete to Calatrava himself, were the first to march across the new Dallas icon, followed by nearly 16,000 other people. Although the bridge is still not quite ready for vehicular traffic, the city celebrated its commencement with an impressive display of fireworks. Continue reading for more.
Nearly fifteen years ago, Calatrava was commissioned to design five signature bridges that would span across the Trinity River as part of the city’s urban revitalization efforts to improve the landscape and community surrounding the riverfront. Over time, budget cuts have reduced the number of Calatrava bridges to three and recent reports indicate that more cuts will be made. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is the first Calatrava vehicular bridge in the United States and was built accordingly to the original design; however, the second bridge has already been scale back from Calatrava’s original intent and it is unknown whether or not he will be included in the design of the third bridge.
Calatrava envisioned Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge as a central gathering place and a new iconic gateway into the city. Approximately 14,000 vehicles per day are expected to journey across the 1,870-foot, six lane bridge. A number of “string-like” cables attached to a 400-foot central transverse arch supports the structure. According to the Trinity website, the estimated cost for the bridge was $115 million. The city’s contribution was capped at $28 million, with funds approved by voters in 1998. Federal and state agencies, and private donations provided additional funding. Construction on the second bridge is planned to begin in 2013.