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'It's Fabulous:' Dallas' Continental Bridge Reopens As A Park -- No Cars Allowed

A brand-new $12 million Dallas park officially opened Sunday -- on an old converted bridge that spans the Trinity River west of downtown. On the Continental Bridge, cars are no longer allowed, but pedestrians and bicyclists are free to roam.

Under some cloud cover and a cooling breeze, Sunday was, by most accounts, a beautiful day for hiking. Or, for Reshad Graves, biking the renovated pedestrian bridge and newly paved Skyline and Trinity River trails below.

“I’m just enjoying it because I like to ride when the weather’s nice,” Graves said. “It’s a perfect day to ride, to enjoy the weather while I can before it starts getting hot. It’s especially nice 'cause it rides along the Trinity River.”  

'What's not to love?'

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
The playground includes squishy blocks and a soft and safe surface.

Cars used to roll across this bridge, built in 1933. Now they have to drive the newly flood-protected Sylvan Avenue bridge on one side -- or the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, next door on the other.

Replacing the cars on the Continental Bridge? A playground with colorful, geometric climbing blocks on a safe, soft surface. Lounge chairs. Spans of tall, white cloth act as shade structures to block the sun. Other spans of rope mesh will shade visitors when vines grow and curl over them. There's a meditation labyrinth, bocce court and a spray fountain.

On Sunday, there was a celebration to open the renovated bridge, which many hope will help continue the revitalization of west Dallas.

Scientists Jennifer and Luke Kohler rode their bikes on trails from Dallas’ M Streets to the bridge. Their kids, Magli and Ozette, were buckled into rear cargo seats.

“It’s awesome, it’s cool, it’s nice to look at,” Luke Kohler said. “There’s people out and about. We can ride our bikes here. What’s not to love?”

“The more we can do on the trail, the better,” Jennifer Kohler said. “The less times we have to go where all the cars are.”   

Dallasite Linda Alonzo says the Continental park offers the perfect view of the Calatrava-designed white-arch bridge.

“I was totally against it in the beginning, but it’s gorgeous,” Alonzo said. “It’s pretty. I’ve seen it at a distance, but never on the bridge. And it’s fabulous.”

Hopes of a revitalized West Dallas

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Sit-down chess boards sit next to a human-size board at the Continental Bridge park.

The entire Reyes family is impressed, too. They all left Frisco before sunrise Father’s Day to run the 5k Revel Run. Paul Reyes remembers this part of West Dallas when he attended medical school at UT-Southwestern.

“I think it’ll open it up, and I’ve been here 30 years and I remember  driving through this area here,” Reyes said. “I used to think 'Ohhh.'  You know? And now I think it’ll hopefully definitely revitalize the area. And bring us. We’re from Frisco.”

Many visitors said Sunday was the first time they had ever been to the bridge, trails and West Dallas. And a lot of them said thanks to the playground, seats, water misters, shade, or the adjacent West Dallas Gateway parking lot, they intend on returning.

Learn more about the new bridge park

The Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge

What is it? It spans the Trinity River west of downtown Dallas. It includes 39 trellis and shade structures, a meditation labyrinth, bocce court, spray fountain and playground.

West Dallas Gateway Plaza

What is it? It’s located between the western end of the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge and Trinity Groves. Outdoor concerts are planned. Organizers say it’s a good spot for a picnic with great views of the Dallas skyline.

Trinity Skyline Trail

What is it? It’s a hike, bike and skate trail in the Trinity River basin between Sylvan Avenue and West Commerce Street.

Sylvan Avenue Bridge

What is it? The bridge has been redesigned. It’s a six-lane bridge with two six-foot sidewalks on the shoulders.

Learn more about the Trinity River Corridor Project.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.