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Anxiety rising over Hurstview Drive bridge closure

HURST -- Steve Anderson, owner and lead barber at Head Quarters, said frustration is growing over the planned closing and demolition of the Hurstview Drive bridge.

He isn't concerned that he'll lose the 35 percent of his clients who live south of Airport Freeway, only that they'll come less often because of the inconvenience of alternate routes to his shop in the 1800 block of Hurstview Drive.

He just knows that his customers are going to complain about it.

"Precinct Line is too crowded and Norwood is too crooked," he said.

North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners and Bluebonnet Contractors have changed the date for the bridge's 12-month closure about half a dozen times since construction began on the $2.5 billion project in 2010.

Now they're shooting for April 16 or soon thereafter.

The Hurstview Drive bridge will be demolished after a new walkway is finished and the old walkway east of the bridge is demolished.

Schedule changes are the nature of the beast for projects as dynamic as the North Tarrant Express, which involves the reconstruction of Northeast Loop 820 and Airport Freeway from Interstate 35W in Fort Worth to the Texas 121/183 split in Bedford and Euless, NTE spokesman Robert Hinkle said.

"Everything hinges on something else, where we have resources in the corridor and where they're being moved at any time," he said.

Head Quarters barber Dee Covington said repeated postponements of the bridge closing don't bother her. The longer it takes, the better she likes it.

"I won't feel frustrated until it closes," said Covington, who uses the bridge at least four days a week for work. "Then, I might cry."

City spokeswoman Ashleigh Whiteman said she's eager for the day to come so the confusion will end.

"I think it's safe to say that when people see the pedestrian bridge is completely demolished, don't expect to drive across Hurstview, because part of it will be gone," she said.

Of the 10 traffic bridges involved in the 13.5-mile project, Iron Horse Boulevard in North Richland Hills is the only other one that will be closed before the project's 2015 finish. The Rufe Snow Drive bridge will be the least affected, needing only minor adjustments.

Built in 1967, the two-lane Hurstview bridge is 205.1 feet long, according to uglybridges.com.

When it reopens, it will have four lanes and be almost 92 feet longer, Hinkle said.

The bridge "has been the biggest mystery since this project started," Hinkle said. "One of the first rumors we heard was that people thought the bridge would go away permanently. We don't know where that one came from, but we've tried to dispel it."

Unfortunately, one of the frequently changing signs intended to inform users about the bridge recently reignited that rumor.

"One time the sign on one end of the bridge said it would close on a certain date and be closed for a year," Covington said. "The sign on the other end of the bridge said it would be closed permanently."

City Hall's phones lit up, Whiteman said.

"We were deluged with calls from residents who thought the bridge was going away forever, because the sign said 'permanently,'" Whiteman said. "Hurstview is one of the major connectors north to south and its closure will impact a significant number of residents."

When the bridge is being reconstructed, 31-year resident Dr. David Meyer fears that extra traffic on Precinct Line Road and Norwood Drive will create gridlock.

"It's going to be terrible for a year, and the good people of Hurst have to suffer," he said. "When I first used that bridge, there would be one other car on it at most. Now there are dozens of other cars every time I cross."

Hurst Public Works Director Ron Haynes agreed that traffic will increase on Precinct Line and Norwood when the bridge closes, but he predicted that the effect won't be as dramatic as some believe.

"We're planning on adjusting the signals on Precinct Line to accommodate the additional traffic," he said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Terry Evans, 817-390-7620

Twitter: @NETarrantNews

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