The newly built Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge now connects two sections of a San Antonio park that were previously separated by a highway. The bridge, which is aimed at serving both humans and animals, was developed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts along the busy highway. According to the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, the bridge is the biggest of its kind in the U.S.

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The six-lane highway crossing the Phil Hardberger Park makes it difficult for animals to get from one side to the other. Even though there are barriers restricting the animals from crossing the highway, there are those that still break through. This has led to various accidents on this highway.

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Former Mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger, who shares his name with the park, said in an interview that the animals within the park have always been threatened by the highway.

“Even though you do put up barriers, they’ll get across or start to get across,” Hardberger said. “Right now, it’s six lanes. [The Texas Department of Transportation] says it will eventually be eight lanes. We’ve had some accidents between cars and deer especially and some of the smaller animals as well.”

aerial view of wildlife bridge over a highway

The bridge, which opened on Friday, has already be used by local wildlife, as seen by construction workers. The new structure is 150 feet long and about 150 feet wide. It is also designed to feature walking trails for humans and natural vegetation for the animals. Once the vegetation is fully developed, the bridge is expected to resemble the look of the park.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has applauded the project, expressing his expectations for the park once the landscape is fully developed.

Nirenberg said, “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.”

For years, measures intended to help wildlife cross busy roads and other human-made impediments have been implemented. According to National Geographic, such structures originated in France in the 1950s. Today, there are plenty of these structures around the world, including in the United States. Currently, there are similar projects underway in Houston and San Francisco.

+ San Antonio Parks and Recreation

Via Huffington Post

Photography by Justin Moore; rendering via San Antonio Parks and Recreation