Six-Lane Highway Will Soon Be Covered With an Environmentally Friendly Land Bridge

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects - Land Bridge - Houston Memorial Park

In 1955, a six-lane highway in Houston sliced the city's Memorial Park in half—effectively isolating each side of the ecosystem. Now, over 65 years later, that damage will begin to be reversed thanks to a new land bridge designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Dozens of species will once again be able to migrate across the nearly 1,500-acre park, which will be the largest urban park in the United States.

The eco-bridge has two massive tunnels that will begin to funnel traffic in February 2023. At that point, the architects will then focus on the surrounding landscape. This includes shaping an appropriate prairie network on the 45 acres that sits on top and surrounds the tunnels. As these types of wildlife bridges have had success around the globe, it's exciting to think of how Houston's land bridge will transform the environment.

The Memorial Park land bridge differs from others in the United States because it not only unites the park but has also been constructed to integrate stormwater management and water quality treatment. The project is an effort that involves many experts aside from the landscape architects. Civil engineers, structural engineers, scientists, fluvial geomorphologists, prairie experts, and urban biologists have all used their expertise to ensure that this infrastructure project will meet the needs of the community while also preserving the environment.

Rendering of the Memorial Park Land Bridge in Houston

The utmost care was taken in the planning of the bridge, even down to the soil used to cover the tunnels. The soil was harvested from other land projects within Memorial Park, meaning that no earth had to be imported for the bridge. Once the landscape is complete, it will be a thriving Coastal Prairie ecosystem. According to Nelson Byrd Woltz, this ecosystem is one of North America's most endangered.

By selecting soils and deep-rooted Coastal Prairie plants with resiliency and the ability to slow and store stormwater in carefully calibrated channels and wetlands, the bridge and surroundings will provide a healthy environment for wildlife while keeping the area safe.

When the Memorial Park Land Bridge opens in early 2023, it will be the largest land bridge in Texas and begin working its magic to restore this prized urban park's environment.

Houston's soon-to-open Memorial Park Land Bridge will connect two sides of a six-lane highway built in the 1950s.

Rendering of the Memorial Park Land Bridge in Houston

Experts across multiple disciplines worked to ensure the infrastructure project would also benefit the environment.

Rendering of the Memorial Park Land Bridge in Houston

The land bridge will not only be a wildlife crossing, but it will allow all park visitors access across the 1,500-acre park.

Seating Area on Memorial Park Land Bridge in Houston

Connectivity of the Houston Memorial Land Bridge

A Coastal Prairie ecosystem will be cultivated on and around the bridge.

Prairie Habitat at the Memorial Park Land Bridge

As home to rare species of flora and fauna, Texas' largest land bridge will benefit the community for generations to come.

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects - Land Bridge - Houston Memorial Park

Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects: Website | Instagram 

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architecture.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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