PHOTOS: Gays help dedicate the Calatrava bridge

Posted on 05 Mar 2012 at 1:48pm

Gay flaggers greeted pedestrians on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge on Saturday. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The new Calatrava bridge was eerily quiet this morning, less than 24 hours after Mayor Mike Rawlings cut the ribbon and tens of thousands of people walked across the span. And commuters anxiously await word on when they’ll be able to cross the world’s narrowest body of water spanned by a cable-stayed bridge.

What’s been apparent to anyone who regularly uses the Continental viaduct, which runs alongside the new bridge, is that without on and off ramps, the new road is useless. And until January, there was no evidence that the bridge that ended at the levee would have a way to connect to Singleton Boulevard down below. The ramp from southbound I-35 to the bridge is also incomplete.

However, even though the city doesn’t know how to complete a bridge, the gays sure know how to throw a party. During Super Bowl week last year, most of the planned events were canceled or scaled back because of weather. The one event that went off without a hitch — because the planners understood that it was taking place in February — was the party on Cedar Springs.

So when it was time to plan the bridge celebration, the city wisely left it to the gays.

The Trinity Commons Foundation headed by gay former City Councilman Craig Holcomb staged the Trinity River Levee Run on Saturday morning.

This was the eighth year for the event, but Saturday’s route took runners back and forth across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge to Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas. Thousands participated.

The Trinity Trust Foundation put on a number of events through the weekend. Former Lone Star Ride Director Janie Bush used her event planning skills to help coordinate a Friday night Lyle Lovett concert on the bridge, fireworks on Saturday night, and lots and lots of people on the bridge throughout the weekend.

On Saturday, after the bridge was open to pedestrians one hour, a security guard tallied the number of people who had passed by the Singleton Boulevard entrance. She said 4,500 people were on the bridge that first hour.

Pedestrian traffic was held up at 1 p.m. on Saturday for the Parade of Giants. Area groups created giant puppets of West Dallas heroes — from Bonnie and Clyde to Judge Barefoot Sanders and Judge Jerry Buchmeyer. The creative effort was coordinated by the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

So what’s gay about that? For one thing, West Dallas Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Randall White and his partner Jeff Herrington ,who was volunteer communications chair.

And Buchmeyer is significant to Dallas LGBT history. In the early 1980s, he declared the state’s sodomy law unconstitutional. Although his decision was overturned by a higher court, he was vindicated 20 years later by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Lawrence v. Texas case. Because a celebration erupted on the day in September that Buchmeyer declared 21.06 unconstitutional, the Pride parade has been held annually in Dallas in September rather than in June.

And, as tens of thousands of pedestrians entered the bridge from Singleton Boulevard, they were greeted throughout the afternoon by an LGBT flagging group. West Dallas Councilwoman Monica Alonzo even joined the group for a short flagging lesson.

On Singleton Boulevard, a number of businesses are planned, but two are open for business — the Workroom, a gay-owned design store, and a gallery in a temporary space that was exhibiting work by lesbian painter Jolene Decle.

And rest assured, West Dallas and Oak Cliff commuters: The ribbon-cutting wasn’t a hoax, and the bridge over the Mighty Trinity will open sometime this spring. Or summer. Or if it really really rains a lot, this fall.

More photos below:

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