“This new parkland will symbolize the triumph of ‘green over gray,’ healing the divide created by Memorial Drive half a century ago,” said Shellye Arnold, president and CEO of Memorial Park Conservancy, in a news release. “We are confident that together, the land bridge and prairie project will further distinguish both Memorial Park and Houston, serving as an icon for a greener and more resilient future.”
The conservancy also said the project will have area drainage benefits by offering detention and a stream channel through the site to act as a "green sponge, helping to absorb and clean stormwater," according to the news release.
“From aiding with critical stormwater management to granting people and wildlife safer crossing over Memorial Drive to providing a dynamic outdoor destination for all visitors, the Land Bridge and Prairie will be an asset not just for Memorial Park but for all Houstonians,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in the announcement. “It’s about unifying both sides of the park and giving people a new landmark that they can be proud of and use to enjoy nature.”
Starting in September, one lane of Memorial Drive in each direction will be closed through fall 2021 while a new section of roadway and tunnel structures are constructed just south of Memorial Drive. Completion of the land bridge is scheduled for 2022.
The land bridge and prairie project is a joint effort by the Memorial Park Conservancy, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the Kinder Foundation and Uptown Development Authority. Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, the lead design firm for the park's master plan, also led the design of this effort.
“The land bridge and prairie design embodies many of the guiding values set forth by the Master Plan, as informed by the more than 3,000 Houstonians who contribute to its development,” said Thomas Woltz, owner of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.