The ribbon was cut on the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge across the Trinity River in Dallas Sunday. But the bridge won’t open to traffic until late this month. KERA’s BJ Austin says when it does, transportation planners predict it’ll bring some relief to the highly congested downtown mixmaster.
Three hundred-fifty thousand cars travel the downtown Dallas mixmaster each day. That’s the mish-mash of lane mergers and curving ramps where I-30 and I-35 converge. Most mixmaster drivers cross the Trinity River on bridges marked by pothole patches and bumpy pavement joints. Michael Morris, transportation director at the North Central Texas Council of Governments says the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is going to help that situation.
Morris: People coming back on Woodall Rodgers today. Everyone has to get off at the horribly congested clover leaf at Stemmons and you have to merge your way down to Interstate 30. Now you can go straight across, and the river, I think, will become less of a constraint in people’s mobility to and from downtown.
The Texas Department of Transportation says the Margaret Hunt Hill won’t fix the mixmaster, but it will take at least 3% from the gridlock equation. So, when will the bridge open? Duane Milligan, Construction Engineer with TxDOT, says March 29th, after rain-delayed bridge ramps at I-35 and Riverfront Blvd. are completed.
Milligan: We were preparing for a staged opening where we were going to open the main lanes across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. The only thing we weren’t going to be able to provide was those connections to Riverfront Blvd. and 35E.
But Milligan says the Dallas Police Department decided no.
Milligan: They did not want us to open up in that condition. They thought there would be driver confusion.
The Council of Governments’ Michael Morris says the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge will be the equivalent to adding two lanes to I-30. Morris predicts a lot of people will find new commute routes, using Singleton or Hampton.
Morris: There’s other thoroughfare streets that I think create an opportunity to greater accessibility to downtown, and then greater mobility because of the transportation system that’s already existing in West Dallas.
And Morris has another prediction. He expects every televised Mavericks, Rangers or Cowboys game will start with a shot of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.
Related Link: mhhbridgecelebration.com