Construction barriers now removed, the new land bridge connecting the east and west sides of Phil Harderger Park opened on Friday.
Phil Hardberger, former mayor of San Antonio and president of the park’s conservancy, said the completion of the bridge has been 10 years in the making.
“It’s kind of a little burden off your shoulders if you have a job that takes 10 years to complete,” Hardberger said. “But in addition to that, it’s a great pleasure to kind of help tie people in San Antonio back to nature.”
The $23 million project was approved by San Antonio City Council in September 2018, receiving $13 million from the 2017 municipal bond and $10 million in public and private funds raised by the Hardberger Park Conservancy. SpawGlass began the construction of the 150-foot-wide structure in November 2018.
Park visitors Rudy Martinez and Katie Martinez left work early to arrive at the park minutes before the opening. The opening of the bridge was something they had been looking forward to since its early stages.
“Watching the time-lapse videos, I thought it looked really neat,” Rudy said. “When I saw that [the opening] was today, because we’ve been coming here for a few years, I wanted to come and check it out as soon as they opened.”
Frequent visitor Hanna Dawson also came out to be one of the firsts to cross the land bridge.
“I really, really like it,” Dawson said. “I’m excited to see this [land bridge] open. … It’s beautiful. I’m really excited for these entrances to be connected.”
Hardberger said the landscaping of the bridge focuses on irrigating plants found around the park itself rather than bringing in plants not local to the San Antonio area. Visitors can expect to see the plants grow in the next months.
“It should look pretty good by the spring, but it would probably be at its optimum after two or three years. Then it’s gonna look exactly like the surrounding parts of the park,” Hardberger said.
Wendy Leonard, nature preserve officer with the City’s parks and recreation department, manages the park from both a maintenance and ecological perspective. Leonard says the bridge has already seen some wildlife crossers including deer, opossums, and raccoons.
“It’s exciting to see people cross from one side of the park to the other; the park is finally linked up together,” Leonard said. “It’s also exciting to see wildlife use it. We’ve already seen a lot of wildlife come across the bridge as well.
Hardberger did not indicate any other plans for the park other than routine maintenance following this accomplishment.
“The park, as far as I am concerned, is now finished,” Hardberger said.