The Historic and Design Review Commission on Wednesday gave final approval to the $23 million Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge set to connect the east and west sides of Hardberger Park by December 2019.
The 330-acre, Northwest side park, situated in City Council districts 8 and 9, has been divided by Wurzbach Parkway since its creation in 2010, making it inconvenient and dangerous for park visitors and denizens to cross on foot.
The bridge, designed by Rialto Studios, is less than 200 feet wide and will be covered in natural vegetation. It will feature elevated paths that allow both animals and humans to cross.
Funding for the public-private project came from multiple sources, including $13 million from the voter-approved 2017 municipal bond, a $1 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and dozens of individual, corporate, and foundation donations to the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy.
Last May, former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger and his wife Linda contributed $1 million of their own money to the Conservancy. Hardberger announced in March that the Tobin Endowment donated $1.5 million to fund the remaining cost of the project, which led to the naming of the bridge in honor of the gift.
Commissioners unanimously granted final approval to the project without discussion.
Critics of the land bridge, including former mayoral candidates and some sitting City Council members, argue the bond money allocated to the project should have instead gone to neighborhood parks in greater need of repair or other basic infrastructure projects.
Hardberger, who has worked on the project since 2014, has previously told the Rivard Report that it will be “a world-class public art statement” as well as a functional addition to the park. Existing trails on each side of the 330-acre park will direct foot traffic to the sky walks situated on top of the bridge.