Already an icon, the gleaming 400ft white arch of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the first steel bridge across the Trinity River in Dallas, will officially open March 4, 2012.
Designed by the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, the bridge will connect West Dallas to the downtown Dallas and points beyond and does so with panache. But a lot more is riding on the bridge than six lanes of traffic and a gleaming new image for the city.
It is hoped the bridge will be a vital piece in the revitalization of West Dallas, a neighborhood of abandoned factories and rusting warehouses that for years was a toxic dumping ground for the far better-off city across the water of such proportions that it earned the unenviable ranking as one of the top Superfund sites in the world.
Plans for a new urbanism style remake is underway for the district but time will tell if the area can be resuscitated, at which point the $117m bridge will go down in history as either West Dallas’s savior or the bridge to nowhere.
But for now, it’s all happy talk as the city prepares to celebrate this striking new image on Dallas’ skyline that draws comparison to Saarinen’s Gateway arch in St. Louis. The arch itself, which consists of 25 steel segments, anchors the cable stayed portion of the bridge with 58 cables ranging in size from four to eight inches in diameter. Each cable attached to the arch is secured back down into the center spine of the bridge bed itself, thus holding itself in suspension.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is Calatrava’s first vehicular bridge to be built in the United States.