Santiago Calatrava Loses a Bridge in Dallas, Faces More Delays in Calgary

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Another year and more bridge-related headaches for Santiago Calatrava, a man who seems perpetually plagued by the things. The architect initially started having trouble with the Trinity River project in Dallas two years ago, when budget considerations were a major sticking point and the Army Corp of Engineers thought his plans might be unsafe in a 100-year flood. Within a few months, despite some grumbling in the local papers, the project to build two new bridges had been approved and construction began on the first. Now it’s looking like it will both start and stop there. City officials have announced that they don’t have enough money to pay for Calatrava’s second bridge, as they’re already having to tighten the purse strings on the first one. So the plan now is to just go with a standard, utilitarian model instead of “a fancy bridge.” However, the City Manager told the press that “she would ask Calatrava to design a bicycle and pedestrian element for the scaled-down I-30 bridge that could revive some of the ‘signature’ appearance elements,” a process that would involve paying the architect roughly $8 million for this “additional design work.” Not much of a consolation prize for seeing a whole bridge canceled, but we’re guessing that $8 million makes it a bit easier to cope.

Of course, that news out of Dallas couldn’t have come at worse, bridge-related time, as it was nearly simultaneously announced that Calatrava’s Peace Bridge in Calgary has been delayed for the third time. That project had been much debated over the years by locals, ranging from anger over the expense to, more recently, the aforementioned series of delays. You might recall that the architect himself even responded to the criticism back in November, saying no one should blame him, as it was all in contractors’ hands now. The contractors, in turn, claimed that the architect and his staff were demanding too many changes throughout the process, which was slowing everything up. This latest delay was apparently caused by “inadequate welds” that will need to be redone. Everyone quoted in this Calgary Herald story seem tired of taking lumps and ready to be finished with it. The only trick now is finishing. This latest delay has pushed it back to fall, but leaving the possibility open that it might stretch still further, into 2012.