The Trinity River Corridor Project has been the most controversial public topic in Dallas in the past decade. It's the largest public works and urban development project in the history of Dallas, and one of the largest of it's type in the nation. Some see the project as a tremendous opportunity for revitalizing downtown and southern Dallas. Opponents say it's an unnecessary use of public funds.
What Is the Trinity River Corridor Project?
The Trinity River flows just south of downtown Dallas and has been a literal and figurative barrier between economically disadvantaged South Dallas and the remainder of the city. The river corridor has always represented the greatest challenge and greater opportunity to redefine the City of Dallas.
The project is comprised of 3 components – a massive urban park, flood control and transportation. The park will be the largest urban park in the United States. The Trinity River Audobon Center is already open and the 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest will be made more accessible with minimal environmental impact. Numerous lakes, sports fields, jogging/biking trails and the river itself will provide incredible leisure opportunities.
The flood control is the most complex and the largest urban development effort undertaken by the city and it will make Dallas the envy of other large cities. The plan is to create a flood protection solution and an opportunity for community revitalization, economic development and the creation of a world-class greenway.
The most visual portion of the project will be three Santiago Calatrava-designed "signature" bridges. These bridges will provide the vital link between southern Dallas and downtown.
What Are "Signature" Bridges?
Signature bridges have a unique design that combines distinctive artistic elements with a functioning structure, often using unconventional materials and enhanced lighting. The idea of signature bridges was included in the project's master plan to create an image that is "Distinctively Dallas" and to increase the beauty and benefits of the corridor. Besides creating magnificent Dallas landmarks that will attract millions of visitors and residents to the corridor, the signature bridges can promote favorable land uses and neighborhood revitalization in the adjoining areas. The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on the Woodall Rogers Extension and the Margaret McDermott Bridge on Interstate 30 are both under design as signature bridges. Money is being raised now to create a signature bridge for the Interstate 35E crossing of the Trinity River.
Were Signature Bridges Included in the Original Cost?
The bond program only included funds for a conventional bridge at the planned Woodall Rodgers Extension Bridge. Additional funds for designing and building the signature bridges have come from private donations, public arts funds, plus County, State and Federal appropriations.
Why Is This Project So Important to Dallas?
Dallas was first founded on the banks of the Trinity, and the river is tightly interwoven with Dallas' history, yet in its current state is largely hidden from public eye. The project is seen as a great opportunity to redefine the city and bring it all together.
How Much Will It Cost?
State, federal and other agencies are providing $2.2 billion. A $246 million bond program was approved by Dallas voters in 1998 to help pay for the project. Now that the dust has settled on the bond elections and construction has begun, public arguments continue on the details of the project.
When Will It Be Completed?
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is under construction and should be completed in March 2012. The remaining bridges will be constructed between 2012 and 2015. Construction will begin on the parkway in 2010 with completion in 2014. The flood control project will also be finished in 2014.
Why All the Controversy?
The remaining controversial portion of the project is the Trinity Parkway, which will be built within the boundaries of the park. This proposed toll road is being planned to relieve traffic congestion downtown. Opponents of the tollway believe that the parkway will ruin the aesthetics of the park and will limit economic development in the area.
With City of Dallas jobs being eliminated and budgets being cut each year, taxpayers have complained about the project's cost and overall necessity. Supporters of the project say it will create more jobs and stimulate the economy in the years to come.