First, a reminder: Donât go anywhere near LBJ Freeway and the Dallas North Tollway this weekend, starting tomorrow night. Just. Donât.
But speaking of the toll-roading of LBJ, a reader took note of that earlier item and wanted to make sure we knew there were, letâs say, issues with the new Joe Ratcliff Pedestrian Bridge, which shuttered with one last blast in August 2011 and finally reopened Monday â" several months after it was originally scheduled to reconnect Northwest Dallas with Farmers Branch and William L. Cabell Elementary School. Complains this particular core reader, the quality of the bridge is âshoddyâ; the design is âawfulâ; and, worst of all, itâs incomplete.
Moreover, he insists, âThey talked about lighting, emergency call boxes and trash cansâ for the bridge, âbut decided they were all too expensive and couldnât be included in the design.â
That missive prompted my Wednesday-morning visit to the bridge, photos of which you can see above and below. And as youâll note the new walkway bears little resemblance to its much beloved predecessor: Itâs no longer enclosed, and the shaded, straight-shot entrance at Cromwell and High Meadow Drives has been replaced by the mammoth zig-zag concrete ramp that looks remarkably out of place in the neighborhood.
But itâs done, says Andy Rittler, director of corporate affairs for the LBJ Infrastructure Group.
âThe design we have is completed,â he told me Wednesday evening. âIt basically meets all the safety and ADA standards, so thatâs how itâs going to look.â Which isnât to say there couldnât be some changes: LBJ Express higher-ups, he says, are talking to city of Dallas officials about some âaesthetic landscapingâ ideas, among them âhow to keep trash from piling up around the bridge.â But, says Rittler, âThereâs not a whole lot of room for greenery. The bridge serves its function.â
And the Texas Department of Transportation is considering that emergency call box. But other than that, well, thatâs that.
âThis is the new TxDOT designâ for its pedestrian bridges, he says. âThe cage? Thatâs gone away. The ramp? Thatâs all ADA. The bikers hate it, because they canât go straight down like they used to. But thatâs all ADA-compliant. As for landscaping, the issue will always be: Whoâs responsible for the upkeep? And as for lighting, itâs a bridge for school kids, and I donât know many school kids crossing the bridge at night. At the end of the day itâs done.â See for yourself below.
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