New information details Memorial Park land bridge construction timeline

Charly Edsitty Image
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Memorial Park land bridge tunnels could open later this year
TAKE A LOOK: Two massive cylinders on Memorial Drive will offer a safe place for wildlife to cross over the busy road, along with new bike and walking paths for pedestrians.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Animals will soon have a safe place to cross along Houston's busy Memorial Drive.

A land bridge is currently being built at Memorial Park that will work like an overpass for animals.

The park says, sadly, they see wild animals hit and killed along the roads about two times a week.

An animal bridge already built in Utah allows wildlife to cross without the fear of being hit on the roadway.

SEE MORE: Video shows bridge made for wildlife in use by coyotes, bears and mountain lions

Southern California officials have announced plans for a highway overpass for wildlife, saying that they aim to break ground in 2021. ABC7 has obtained some preview footage of what it might look like from Utah's equivalent "Critter Bridge."

If you've been to Memorial Park over the last several months, surely you've noticed a lot of construction happening on the west side along Memorial Park Drive.

Before the piles of dirt and concrete were at the park, and way before Houston even existed, about 9 million acres of southeast Texas and Louisiana were covered in coastal prairie

"Over thousands of years ago, the coastal prairie defined life and formed the identity of southern Texas," the Memorial Park Conservancy explained in an informational video.

Currently, less than 1% of the prairie land still exists.

ABC13 got an up close look at construction and the details of what they are planning to do.

The land bridge project hopes to bring back more of that native coastal prairie, and that will help with drainage, especially during storms, and provide more clean air.

It looks like a bunch of concrete and dirt now, but will soon be an outdoor oasis for all of Houston to enjoy.

"It really is meant to stitch the north and south park back together," Randy Odinet with the Memorial Park Conservancy said.

The land bridge and prairie restoration project will give new access inside the park like never before.

Two giant cement cylinders will soon usher drivers underneath a land bridge.

The tunnels that drivers will go through are 54 feet wide, 27 feet tall and as long as a football field.

The tunnels are expected to be ready to drive through as soon as later this year, and the whole project is expected to be done by fall 2022.

It's important to note that Memorial Park Drive will stay open through construction.

The two sides of the park will be connected, offering new bike and walking paths for pedestrians, a stellar view of the city and a safe crossing area for some of the wildlife that call Memorial Park home.

"We have these spaces that, when you start to stitch them back together, create more sustainable and functional zones," Odinet said.

The Memorial Park Conservancy says there will be cameras set up in the park to catch the animals crossing.

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RELATED: Memorial Park marks milestone construction in Land Bridge and Prairie project

In Dave Ward's Houston, a look at how Memorial Park became to be the runner's mecca that it is now.