The Tobin Endowment will contribute $1.5 million to the construction of Hardberger Park’s land bridge, former Mayor Phil Hardberger announced Wednesday. The gift finishes off funding for the $23 million public-private project.
The land bridge, officially named the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge in honor of the gift, will connect the east and west sides of the 330-acre park that straddles Wurzbach Parkway. Slated for completion in December 2019, it will be covered in natural vegetation and built with elevated paths that will allow people and animals to cross over the Parkway.
“The Tobin Endowment exists to support and enhance the quality of life in San Antonio through the arts, historic preservation, and other worth civic causes, and I can think of few projects that will have the same level of impact on our city that this land bridge will have when it’s complete,” stated J. Bruce Bugg Jr., chairman and trustee of the endowment, in a news release.
Funding came from several 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. The conservancy led the fundraising efforts and Hardberger, its president, and his wife, Linda, donated $1 million to the bridge.
Some critics of the land bridge, including former mayoral candidates and some sitting City Council members, argue the bond money given to the project should have gone to neighborhood parks with greater needs for repairs or other basic infrastructure projects.
There is also skepticism that the bridge will actually be used by wildlife as planned. Studies have shown that other land bridges assisted animals as they look for food, water, and mates.
“San Antonio citizens have long since proven that we can do anything that we set our minds to do,” Hardberger stated in the release. “This is but the latest example. The bridge with its beauty and utility will now be a part of our city for future generations.”
The project’s design received conceptual approval from the Historic and Design Review Commission in January. It must receive final approval before construction can begin.
The City will release a request for proposals for the construction of the bridge on Monday, March 12.