Construction of the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge is underway, and a major part of the planning process associated with the project was how to construct the land bridge spanning Wurzbach Parkway with minimal disruption to the busy thoroughfare.
The land bridge, the first of its kind in the world, will span 150 feet and connect the east and west sides of Phil Hardberger Park, which is currently separated by a six-lane portion of the parkway. City leaders and Hardberger Park officials have predicted the land bridge will be a landmark in San Antonio.
To accommodate construction, lanes have been closed along a 1,600-foot stretch of Wurzbach Parkway between Blanco Road and N.W. Military Highway as part of a plan put in place by the City’s Transportation & Capital Improvements Department (TCI).
“We took special care to ensure the lane closures affected as few drivers as possible while allowing our crews to begin construction and work safely,” said Paul Berry, a spokesman for TCI. “The key is that we aren’t closing down the lanes during rush hours.”
TCI decided to begin daily work on the land bridge at 9 a.m. and stop before the afternoon rush hour begins at 4 p.m. During those hours the far right-hand lanes in each direction are closed, but throughout the rest of the day the lanes are open. Even with the closures, two lanes in each direction are still open for traffic, so the impact to drivers is minimal. This lane closure pattern will continue through mid-summer.
Berry said intermittent full-lane closures will begin next fall that will completely close Wurzbach Parkway between Blanco and N.W. Military.
“In about eight months or so, we will begin to place beams for the bridge over Wurzbach Parkway [and close] that area of the road to all traffic,” Berry said. “However, in our continued effort to impact traffic as little as possible the work and closures will only be done at night and on the weekends.”
Even though this major closure is several months out, Berry is encouraging those who regularly use Wurzbach Parkway to start identifying alternative routes, especially if they plan to drive on the parkway at night.
When the time comes to close that portion of the parkway, it will only be done between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Should construction become necessary over the weekends during this period, so might a full closure during daylight hours. TCI will communicate with neighborhoods and area businesses well in advance of the full lane closures and ensure the news is shared throughout the city.
“We don’t want anybody caught by surprise,” Berry said.
According to the Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy, the land bridge will be the first ever to accommodate both people and animals. It is scheduled to be completed in 2020. The bridge design was commissioned by the Conservancy and will cost a total of $23 million dollars to build. The Conservancy raised $10 million from private donations, and the remaining $13 million will come from the City of San Antonio’s voter-approved 2017 bond.