A bridge so famous that to some it had become somewhat of an urban myth opened today following years of snags and busted deadlines.
City of Dallas officials and champions of the multimillion-dollar Mockingbird Pedestrian Bridge celebrated the bridge’s completion Thursday afternoon at a small ribbon-cutting ceremony at the DART platform and bridge landing.
"This is a new day for this neighborhood and its surrounding community," said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. The bridge, he said, will make the area a "better place, a safer place, a more fit place."
District 14 Dallas Councilman Philip Kingston praised the supportive role the university played in building a connective bridge in an area school officials have dubbed "East Campus." And before fastening his helmet and taking the inaugural bicycle ride across the bridge, Kingston also thanked former Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who he said pushed the city for eight years to get the Katy Trail extension built.
The bridge spans the busy six-lanes of Mockingbird Lane near North Central Expressway and serves as a connecting link to the popular Katy Trail, a recreational hub for runners, cyclists, dog-walkers, and others looking to soak up some Vitamin D. It also offers safe connectivity to the complex of shops and restaurants at Mockingbird Station.
"When we talk about creating a city for the next generation, we have to talk about connectivity without cars," Hunt said. "This is the type of infrastructure that does that. My hope is this type of infrastructure can be replicated across the city."
Hunt thanked Councilman Kingston for his continued effort over the past four years to "push, and push, and push," to get the project across the finish line.
Beyond being an extension of the trail, the need for a safe crossing over the bustling Mockingbird Lane has been highlighted 16 times since December 2011.
According to news reports, 16 people trying to cross Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway have been struck by vehicles since the 2011 projected opening date the city originally set. Two of them were killed.
The project initially was approved in Dallas’ 2006 bond package, but construction didn’t begin until 2013 due to unexpected delays spurred by land disputes and concerns over design.
The crossing officially opened to pedestrians and bicyclists at 4 p.m. Thursday.
University Crossing – a 122-acre neighborhood that sits across Central Expressway from SMU and is bounded by Greenville Avenue and Lovers and Mockingbird lanes – will celebrate the opening this Saturday with a community event at Glencoe Park and Mockingbird Station.
The event begins at 9 a.m. with a community bike ride. Several city of Dallas departments, including City Hall on the Go, Animal Services, and Dallas Police and Fire will attend.