The office of Santiago Calatrava, known for their incredible feats of architecture and engineering, has come under scrutiny for the failures of three cable connectors on their Margaret McDermott Bridge in Dallas, Texas, which has been delayed in opening due to the failures that occurred in Spring of 2016. However, while the office has taken heat for the malfunction, as the Dallas Observer reported, a newly released set of documents show that Calatrava’s team tried to insist on testing the strength of the cables, even going so far as offering to loan money for these tests, but these offers were declined by the city.
The first cable failed after a rod used to adjust one of the cables cracked on March 22, 2016. In the weeks following, two more rods cracked. To fix the problem dampers have been installed onto the cables, meaning the pedestrian and cycle lane part of the bridge—the part actually held by the cables—has remained closed as the contractors work through the final punch-list items.
The $115 million dollar bridge is designed with two suspension arches that Calatrava designed, which are attached to the sides of a concrete pier-and-beam expressway bridge, to give the appearance of a suspension bridge.
Investigations by Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs revealed a series of documents that show Calatrava’s office repeatedly urged the city to properly test the cable connectors, even offering to lend the city money for the tests if the issue was the cost. The documents further revealed that in September of 2016, Huitt-Zollars, the supervising engineering firm for the bridge, informed the Texas Department of Transportation that the City of Dallas and the contractor agreed to skip a cable stress test as a part of their value engineering options. Had these tests been done, these failures could have been predicted.
News via Dallas Observer.
Correction Update: This article originally stated that the failures were in the cables themselves, rather than the cable connectors. It also implied that the installation of dampers had not resolved the problem, when in fact it has. The article has been updated to reflect these facts.