City News Roundup

Downtown Dallas bridge to get fatal flaws fixed and more city news

Downtown Dallas bridge to get fatal flaws fixed and more city news

Calatrava Margaret McDermott bridge
Pretty but deadly. Courtesy photo

The city of Dallas will pour more money into a doomed bridge. The city is also renaming another institution. Meanwhile, the Dallas County District Attorney is shaking things up.

Here's what happened in Dallas this week:

Suspension bridge woes
On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council approved a $7 million repair to the Margaret McDermott Bridge that has never opened to the public.

The Margaret McDermott Bridge consists of four bridges that cross the Trinity River: two bridges with three lanes of traffic in two directions forming I-30, and two suspension bridges for bike and pedestrian paths. Those suspension bridges are off-limits because they're not deemed safe.

Council member and mayoral candidate Scott Griggs proposed an amendment that the Trinity Park Conservancy, the group pushing for these projects, foot the bill for the engineering mistakes. His amendment was approved by the council, and will require the city to work towards holding the group accountable.

"This would be the force of a majority of the city council formally asking for this, and they will understand why because they were intimately involved in the design of the bridge," Griggs said.

If the bridge were to remain closed, the federal and state transportation departments could withhold about $91 million in funding since the bridges were funded from federal appropriations that were tied closely to pedestrian mobility.

Art and commerce
The Continental Gin Building, a three-story building on the edge of Deep Ellum that was formerly an artists' space, is staged for a major renovation courtesy of a $3 million tax incentive from the city. Developers have proposed mostly office space, with two retail shops and a restaurant with deck patio.

Tax incentives were offered through funds from the Deep Ellum TIF District.

DA doings
The Dallas County District Attorney's office will no longer prosecute certain crimes that Dallas DA John Creuzot says unfairly target African Americans and other minority groups.

The office will no longer prosecute first-time misdemeanor drug possession charges, with a few exceptions, such as drug free zones and possessing a deadly weapon at the time.

And it will no longer prosecute theft of personal items valued less than $750, unless the theft is for economic gain. Cruezot says that rule is meant to keep homeless and the very poor out of jail for stealing to survive.

He's also making changes to the bail system, with a presumption of release without posting bail for all misdemeanors and state jail felonies for those with clean records. Exceptions to the new bail policy include threatening the victim and people with violent or criminal backgrounds.

Since 2015, the county spent $11 million pursuing criminal trespass cases, which Creuzot says target the mentally ill and homeless and has led to the Dallas County Jail being the largest provider of mental health services in the county.

Union Station renamed
Dallas continues its renaming spree, this time with a new name for Union Station, the transportation hub in downtown Dallas.

The historic building and DART station on Houston Street downtown has been renamed the Eddie Bernice Johnson Union Station, after the congresswoman who has served in the US House of Representatives since 1993.