Since 1933, the Continental Avenue Bridge has served as the connector between downtown and West Dallas. But a little more than a year ago, traffic shut down on the bridge to make way for a project that adds another dimension to this humble overpass: a pedestrian park and plaza spanning the Trinity River.
Locals first knew the Continental bridge as the Lamar-McKinney Viaduct. Voters approved the building of the structure 20 years after the most devastating flood in Dallas history cut off West Dallas from downtown in 1908. It was meant to reconnect the two neighborhoods after the disaster divided them. It continues to serve this same purpose, both literally and figuratively connecting two distinct communities.
Plans for the park have been a long time in the making. City officials pictured it as Dallas’ version of Manhattan’s High Line park: The High Line is another example of converting a piece of infrastructure, in its case a set of elevated train tracks running along the lower west side of Manhattan, into a public green space.
The Continental was originally set to close in the spring of 2012 and reopen as a pedestrian park in August of 2013. However, plans were delayed due to engineering and design issues. But all good things are worth waiting for, and this $12 million project is no exception.
Situated next to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the newly renovated Continental Avenue Bridge re-opened June 15 and has already become a popular gathering place for locals. Not only that, it’s created another means of connecting Trinity Groves fans to their favorite restaurants. Restaurant goers can now make their way over on foot or bike while enjoying the scenery and getting a little exercise along the way.
In addition to its logistical benefits, the Continental Avenue Bridge has something to offer the entire family. Bring the kids and let them scale colorful, geometric climbing blocks or run through the misting fountain. Play a game of bocce ball or life-size chess. Take part in a yoga session while watching the sunrise ascend over the Dallas skyline, or just chill out on a nearby recliner. It doesn’t get much better than that!