Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Slide show and audio tour: Big Italian steel at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge site in Dallas
As assembly begins on the massive arch sections, architect Santiago Calatrava plans a trip to Texas for a Trinity-spanning celebration on Sept. 25.
I met up with Cynthia Northrop White, Texas Department of Transportation public information supervisor, last Thursday (Sept. 3) to get a first-hand look at construction going on at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge site. The bridge, when completed, will span the Trinity just a few hundred feet to the south of the existing Continental Ave. bridge, hooking up Woodall Rodgers (Spur 366) with Singleton Avenue.
Now that the massive steel arch and girder sections have arrived from Italy, things are really starting to take shape -- but, without an expert on hand to tell us what we were seeing, both Northrop White and I were hard pressed to tell one bit of the disconnected bridge skeleton from another.
Fortunately, we bumped into Marco Dalla Bona shortly after donning hard hats. Marco is overseeing the asssembly of the structural steel bridge sections for the contractor employed by bridge designer Santiago Calatrava, and the smooth-talking Italian will be here until the job is done. (As you'll hear in the audio portion of the slide show, the towering arch itself may be up by the end of this year.) Marco's firm has built two other bridges like this one for Calatrava: one in Italy and one in Jerusalem.
Before hopping into the TxDOT truck with Cynthia, I had spent some time in the offices of the Trinity Trust in the Dallas Design District just a few blocks to the north of the construction site. There, facility manager Cindi Welsh showed me an overhead animation video of what some parts of the ambitious Trinity River Project will look like when completed. We're talking lakes, urban promenades, pedestrian overlooks, manufactured river rapids, baseball diamonds ... you'd think the spirit of Walt Disney had returned from Never Never Land and infected the people behind this venture with his most fanciful imaginings.
Bringing this dream-like scenario one small step closer to reality is the room-filling scale model of the project (and its amazingly-detailed urban surrondings) created and donated by AlonUSA. The model is so detailed that the tiny simulacrum of American Airlines Center actually has a teeny-tiny video playing on its tiny jumbotron. Sheesh!
While I was getting the scale model tour from Cindi Welsh, Judy Schmidt stopped by to introduce herself (she's the communications and marketing manager for the Trinity River Corridor Project with the City of Dallas); Judy mentioned that there might be a special event coming up soon that I should be on the lookout for. As I began writing this story, I came across this announcement detailing a planned celebration on Sept. 25. Looks like bridge architect Santiago Calatrava will be coming back to Dallas to join Mayor Tom Leppert, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, U.S. Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and a host of others for a major whing ding that evening starting at 7:30 on the Continental Avenue Bridge.
They're calling it a "bridge fair," and word is there'll be street artists, fantastic foods, and musical entertainment to go along with what I'm certain will be a slew of speechifying.
If I had anything to do with it, I'd have a few fireworks mortars loaded up and ready to shoot; let's see if anyone in the event planning department thinks the same.
See more stories in:
- Photos: Timeline of Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in two minutes
- Dallas' Trinity Trust updates us on progress
- Dallas-area photographers chronicle changes coming to Fort Worth Avenue
- 10 things to watch in Dallas for 2010
- Photos and video: "Bridging the Trinity" party serves up Calatrava, Leppert, Hutchison -- and fireworks!
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- Looking for dinner and a game of bocce? Try Samar by Stephan Pyles
- Dallas Beer Kitchen promises "rare, hard to find" brews on Lowest Greenville
- Transit Bicycle Co. relocates to Lower Greenville
- Creepy rendering of Big Tex shows he's almost ready for the State Fair