SAN ANTONIO – If you drive along Wurzbach Parkway, you’ve probably seen the construction project going on overhead. Crews are putting the finishing touches on the new land bridge that will finally connect the two sections of Phil Hardberger Park. The bridge is set to open to the public Friday afternoon.
This project was planned even before the park opened in 2010. The construction of Wurzbach Parkway meant the park would be split in two, so officials led by former mayor Phil Hardberger came up with the idea of a land bridge.
“We knew it would be unsatisfactory, but we knew we also could fix it and have a style bridge like no one else would really have in the United States,” Hardberger said.
The project also aims to solve a bit of a safety issue: animals sometimes venture onto the parkway looking for food and water in the other section of the park.
“Even though you do put up barriers, they’ll get across or start to get across. Right now, it’s six lanes, TxDOT says it will eventually be eight lanes,” Hardberger said. “we’ve had some accidents between cars and deer especially, and some of the smaller animals as well.”
The bridge sits 25 feet over the parkway and is 150 feet wide to facilitate the crossings. Construction crews report that some animals have already started to figure it all out.
The bridge’s opening will also mean people can also cross to the other side of the park, without having to go all the way to the other end. The land bridge will also feature an elevated walkway that should be completed later this month.
It may not look all that neat even when it opens, but that’s part of the design. The native plants and trees will continue to grow, changing the look of the land bridge over the years.
The $23 million project was paid for with proceeds from the 2017 bond and fundraising through the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy. Hardberger expects it to be a landmark to which city residents can look with pride.
“The words that come to mind are unity, understanding, caring and a little bit of mystery to wonder what’s on the other side of that bridge,’ I think I’ll walk across there, find out what’s going on,’” he said. “I like all of those words that describe a bridge because it helps unite San Antonio, this is a common gathering place.”
The bridge is set to open at 1 p.m. Friday. The land bridge trail is about a quarter mile long. Bikes are allowed in the park, but cyclists are asked to walk their bikes across the new land bridge for safety.