What Is That FUGLY Pedestrian Bridge Over Harry Hines at Walnut Hill That Cost US $4.6 Million? (Preston Center Next?)

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I read about this Tuesday: why would the city spend $4.6 million to put a hideous pedestrian walkway connecting an empty lot to an auto parts store across the street? Is this what our city geniuses envision for Preston Center?

Robert Wilonsky did some heavy digging on the “bridge to nowhere” for the Dallas Morning News, and says it’s pretty awful. So I went over to take a look for myself late Wednesday afternoon.

He’s right, it’s awful and ugly. Wilonsky says he lives nearby — he lives in Sparkman, near where we used to live on Ainsworth, between Royal Lane and Walnut Hill near Marsh. So I kind of know this area, or what it used to be. Used to drive Harry Hines to take my daughter to gymnastics, and my husband still likes some high cholesterol breakfast place over there we used to frequent during Parkland residency/skinnier days. And once upon a time a Chinese family who were his patients fed us royally at the Happy Family restaurant on Walnut Hill Lane. Happy story — their daughter is now a physician in Houston. The area really hasn’t changed that much, good food, still seedy. This pedestrian walkway bridge is anchored on the east by a dilapidated shopping center where I used to take my typewriter for repairs.

There, that’s aging me! That store is long gone.

In fact, as I drove by today, I thought gee, maybe there’s some Medical District type residential dirt turning going on over here I’m missing.

Across the street from the bridge, south west corner, is a cemetery.

The ugliest part of it is the handicap ramp that zig zags down on either side to be ADA compliant.

IMG_2144Who thought of this thing? Why is it here?

“I thought it was for the DART station,” said Song Kim, owner of Just for Play, the lingerie shop in Ravi’s Wholesale Plaza. Kim said Monday that he’d been in this spot for two years, and never once has anyone explained the point of this bridge, which is now scheduled to open in late summer.

The DART station’s a good guess. Dallas Area Rapid Transit has the Walnut Hill Green Line station on the other side of Harry Hines. But the bridge doesn’t connect to it. Denton Drive separates the light-rail station from the bridge.

You are clearly going to risk your life crossing Denton Drive to get to the Dart Station. Wilonsky dug into the fall 2014 issue of Utility Newsletter, which says the bridge “will allow safer pedestrian and bicycle traffic along Harry Hines Boulevard and serve as an example of the modern transportation principles of sustainable and multimodal infrastructure.” It’s part of a grander scheme to expand the connectivity of northwest Dallas and the Asian Trade District. You know, Sam Moon.

Whose son, by the way, has built a beautiful home on Rockbrook.

Wilonsky says the Dallas County Commissioners Court approved it in spring of 2013 at a total cost of $6.5 million but the feds paid for most of it. I stand to correct him. If the feds paid, WE paid. Apparently there are going to be new sidewalks and driveways all up and down Harry Hines to encourage more walkability.

The geniuses at the city, county and state are hoping that an ugly pedestrian bridge will spark transit-oriented development here, on Harry Hines Boulevard at Walnut Hill Lane. I mean, everyone knows the Korean food here is the best in town, but please speak up if you would like to have a thriving business on Harry Hines — I Heart Yogurt? — now that you can walk to the Dart station with only a 50% chance of being run over. In fact, the business owners here themselves say they prefer customers who drive:

But here’s the funny thing. Song Kim, the Just for Play owner, said he’s not terribly interested in having walk-in traffic. There’s already a sign on the door instructing customers to leave backpacks outside because of a rash of thefts. He likes customers who drive up, walk in, get what they want and walk out — like the lady who came to the counter while we were talking. She walked in, grabbed a thong, put her ten-spot on the counter, collected her change and walked out.

$10 for a thong? Highway Robbery!

The guys in Dallas County’s Public Works Department say Rome wasn’t built in a day — get in the infrastructure and folks recognize the potential. You know, build it and they will come!

It’s probably one of the few areas where the city won’t get any backlash or NIMBYisms from the neighbors — they are either dead, or on the street, at work.

Speaking of Mockingbird Station, a bridge there might have saved the life of of film critic Gary Murray who was hit as he tried to cross Mockingbird this past Saturday night, as Wilonsky pointed out.

Of course, there’s been talk at the Task Force Zone 4 meetings of a bridge across Northwest Highway at Preston, to make Preston Hollow and Pink Wall residents feel better about crossing the street to Preston Center. If this is what they are talking about… gag me.

 

 

 

2 Comment

  • In a city with with massive quality of life needs after the Dallas City Council abandoned the 100,000 citizen input Goals For Dallas, which had among its highest priorities an exceptional public library system, we see
    massive investment of taxpayer funds being spent on areas that will benefit few.

    With street maintainence put on the back burner to allocate virtually all City resources to develop the American Airlines Center so that professional team owners could reap massive revenues from luxury suites, we now have a nightmare in pothole infested streets. Before last years floods the City Manager estimated that it would cost $900 million to bring the Dallas streets up to the standards that the City Manager established.

    There is one highest and best use for this white elephant passenger overpass: Should someone seek to do a documentary about the ladies of the evening on Harry Hines Boulevard, the vantage point from high above the street should offer comprehensive views.

  • What contractors benefited from the Project ?