Pedestrian bridge proposed for Memorial Park

January 22, 2008 6:10:05 AM PST
From running to biking, to tennis and swimming, Houston's Memorial Park is a gathering place for a lot of people. Now, there are plans in the works to make it easier to get around when you are at the park.The proposal for the pedestrian bridge is the result of a contest held by the Rice Design Alliance. The alliance is a nonprofit group dedicated to the advancement of architecture and urban design here in Houston. And the winning design is now being considered by city officials.

For anyone not in a car getting from one side of Houston's Memorial Park to another can be tricky.

Park user Pat Roquemore said, "It's hard because sometimes the lights are not timed for pedestrians to get across before the traffic starts, and sometimes the drivers drive a little too fast."

"It's dangerous anywhere you cross," said park user Bob Bunoza.

A proposed living bridge could change that. The design took first place in a contest sponsored by Rice Design Alliance partners. Once built, the bridge would connect the north and south sides of the park over Memorial Drive near the railroad tracks.

Park user Jack Comstock said, "I think it's a good idea if it helps traffic congestion and allows people to do what they do -- jog and walk."

"Anything that improves safety is always welcome," said Bunoza. "I would go along with that, that's for sure."

The design is supported by the Memorial Park Conservancy and has been submitted to the city. While the Parks and Recreation Department says a bridge is part of their master plan, there is no agreement the contest's winning design will be chosen.

Rick Dewees, Assistant Director Parks and Recreation, explained, "We are going to go through a lot of detail with this. It is a very important bridge. Probably before the end of 2009 would be the latest it will happen. It will happen by then."

The city is looking to spend about $3 million on the bridge. It's not clear how much of that money would come from the city's budget and how much would come from private donations. And not everyone agrees on what the park needs most.

Park user Jessica Soller said, "I would rather see an off the leash dog park as part of Memorial Park."

Still, city officials hope the bridge will become a beloved landmark, like the park itself. A fundraiser for the living bridge will be held this Saturday.

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