HOUSTON – A green and lush transformation over Memorial Drive is underway. We’re talking about a new bridge, not for cars but for people.
It’s called the Memorial Landbridge and Prairie and will be a big green space over tunnel lanes of traffic on Memorial Drive near Picnic Lane. This project is part of a multi-million dollar master plan to upgrade Memorial Park. However, in the meantime, it’s a construction mess.
Here’s the breakdown of what you need to know about the bridge, according to the Memorial Park Conservancy:
- Provides greater safety and connectivity: Swaths of green space on top of the Bridge will provide places to relax and enjoy new vistas of the park and the city beyond. It will also serve as a hub for socializing and events. This “new” parkland is an innovative approach to green infrastructure, healing the divide cut by Memorial Drive through the middle of this treasured urban wilderness park half a century ago. Views from the crests of the Land Bridge will highlight the park’s unique vantage point as an oasis of green space nestled between the urban skylines of downtown to the east and Uptown to the west.
- Restores nearly 45 acres of native coastal prairie: The Prairie, which will adjoin the Land Bridge to the north and the south, will re-introduce endangered native Gulf Coast prairie and additional wetlands. New walking and biking trails will expand the contiguous trail network available within the park.
- Creates a new iconic destination for visitors: Together, the Land Bridge and Prairie will distinguish Memorial Park and Houston, serving as an icon for a greener and more resilient future. Memorial Drive will remain open throughout the duration of the project.
- Improves stormwater management: A restored network of native prairie and savanna ecologies will promote regional biodiversity of flora and fauna and act as a green sponge, helping to absorb and clean stormwater.
Cyclists, drivers and pedestrians are left wondering, how will it impact traffic?
- Memorial Drive will remain open during construction. Within the project area, traffic will be reduced from three lanes to two each way while a new section of Memorial Drive and the tunnel arch structures for the Land Bridge are completed directly south of the operating lanes. All lanes will reopen once construction is complete. A traffic study was commissioned to assess peak-hour commute times through the park, and the construction plan is designed to minimize disruption.