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Bridging the Gap

by Jerome Weeks 4 Mar 2012 5:55 PM

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge isn’t open for traffic-traffic yet. But it was open this weekend for foot traffic, puppet traffic, wealthy patron traffic and live music traffic – as the Bridge-O-Rama partied and hoped the new span will spark some renewal for West Dallas.


The new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge won’t be open for traffic for several more weeks. But this past weekend saw the Bridge-O-Rama festivities, commemorating Dallas’ new link across the Trinity River. KERA’s Jerome Weeks has this report.

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The celebratory speeches Friday night on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge began with Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Rawlings: “How do you like our new skyline?” [cheers]

And the live music ended Saturday with the Relatives (bottom), the West Dallas funk-gospel band that performed their first outdoor concert in their home town in 30 years.

Tommy West: “We love you Dallas!”  [cheers]

The weekend’s bright, breezy weather helped bring a crowd on par with expectations, around 20,000 people. Randall White is chairman of the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce. It led the planning for Bridge-O-Rama, which included fireworks, religious ceremonies on Sunday and a parade of giant puppets on Saturday (left).

White: “I have to say I was surprised with the crowd that we had for the Parade of Giants. To see that many people lined up along Singleton and on the way up to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, that was breathtaking.”

But the new bridge has been pitched as not just a designer bauble for the skyline. It’s expected to stoke real estate development in the neglected West Dallas area, across the Trinity River from downtown. The question remains how that development will fit with the area’s long-established, minority neighborhoods.

Reverend Jackie Prim is pastor of Warren Chapel AME Church, located near Singleton Avenue. She takes heart, she says, from the diverse weekend crowds, some of whom had probably never been to West Dallas before.

Rev. Jackie Prim: “Just seeing the commingling and the interaction of everybody, we know we have to still join hands now, and do the work. That’s what lies ahead of us.”