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Largest Wildlife Bridge In U.S. Opens Friday At San Antonio's Hardberger Park

Artist rendering of completed land bridge
Artist rendering of completed land bridge

For the first time, San Antonians are expected to cross the newly completed Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park in the north central side of the city.

Construction barriers will be removed from the bridge over Wurzbach Parkway at 1 p.m. this Friday, according to a news release.

The bridge will be covered with native trees and plants and connects the previously divided 330-acre park.

The project was funded through private donations and the voter-approved City of San Antonio 2017-2022 Bond Program.

“For many years, the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge was only a dream. Thanks to overwhelming community support of the 2017 Bond, the generosity of donors from across the city and the hard work and dedication of so many, the vision is now a reality,” said Phil Hardberger, a former San Antonio Mayor and judge.

“I am honored to invite San Antonians to come experience the Land Bridge and hope it will offer them an escape from the stresses of this year — a place where they may spend time with family and friends and connect with the natural world.”

Hardberger said the bridge allows for people and animals to safely cross over the busy parkway and is the largest wildlife crossing constructed to date in the United States. He also said it will make it easier for animals to reach their watering holes in the park.

According to National Geographic, in addition to reconnecting fractured habitats, wildlife crossings around the world have been shown to significantly reduce wildlife-vehicle crashes.

“We join the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy in celebrating the opening of the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge. I look forward to watching the landscape grow and mature with native trees and plants and observing wildlife through viewing blinds designed by local artists. The bridge is an amazing achievement,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

The park hours are sunrise to sunset. City officials released some tips for visitors this weekend.

  • Due to COVID-19, formal opening ceremonies and celebrations will not be held.

  • Larger than normal crowds are expected for opening weekend of the bridge. Park visitors should wear masks and maintain at least six feet of distance from individuals outside of their household while at the park.

  • Individuals are asked to stay home if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or illness.

  • Visitors may access the bridge crossing from 8400 NW Military Highway via the Savanna Loop trail or from 13203 Blanco Road via the Water Loop trail.

  • The shortest distances along the trails to the bridge are half a mile. Visitors should prepare to walk at least one-mile round trip.

  • Visitors should bring plenty of water to drink, wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes and dress appropriately for the weather.

  • Parking is available at both park entrances and at 1201 Voelcker Lane; however, it is limited. Parking is not available on Wurzbach Parkway.

  • The park is also accessible via the Salado Creek Greenway. Cyclists are welcome on the bridge but must walk their bicycles across.

  • Hardberger Park’s new Skywalk feature, an elevated walkway which climbs through the treetops connecting pedestrians with the bridge is still under construction and is set to open before the end of the year. It will not be accessible opening weekend.

  • City of San Antonio Parks & Recreation Department staff will be on-site to help guide people and educate visitors on the importance of trail etiquette and offer take-home packets with nature-based activities to commemorate the historic bridge opening.

The park also features a gathering hall, outdoor classrooms, dog parks, play areas and miles of trails. The park showcases best practices in development through stormwater catchment, solar energy, biophilic design, and native habitat.

The Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy is a nonprofit led by Hardberger and has a vision of creating and protecting the best place in the heart of San Antonio where people can experience the natural world.

For more information about the bridge and park, visit.

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Kathleen Creedon / Texas Public Radio

Brian Kirkpatrick has been a journalist in Texas most of his life, covering San Antonio news since 1993, including the deadly October 1998 flooding, the arrival of the Toyota plant in 2003, and the base closure and realignments in 2005.