On April 5th, the Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge at Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy in San Antonio opened the Skywalk, an elevated walkway on a trail that climbs up to 18 feet into the treetop canopy and up to the top of the land bridge.
Phil Hardberger, one of many community leaders the park is named after, describes the Skywalk as, “a zipline powered by your feet”. He states,
“Visitors will get a squirrel’s eye view of the trees and ground below, offering a new perspective of the park and its animal inhabitants.”
Former San Antonio Mayor, Hardberger, proposed the natural bridge more than three years ago. This land bridge reclaims the native habitat that was disrupted in the late 1980s with the initiation of plans for the construction of the Wurzbach Parkway in north-central San Antonio. Built by the state with city funding, Wurzbach Parkway is a six-lane freeway whose newest ‘ecoduct’ addition has contributed a positive environmental effect.
The Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge opened to the public on December 11th, 2020, a $23 million project that was in construction for years. It is the largest land bridge designed for both people and animals in the U.S., which comes as no surprise since everything is bigger in Texas. The project is a public-private endeavor, paid with $10 million in grants and private donations and $13 million from a 2017 city bond.
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The opening of the Skywalk marks the end of construction for the land bridge and mimics the experience of climbing the hill for pedestrians, who get to do so through a squirrel’s perspective. Both projects increase accessibility across the parkway and re-connect natural habitats, designed for wildlife and pedestrians to safely cross.
The Tobin Land Bridge unifies the 330-acre park; about half the size of Central Park in New York City. Some facts about the land bridge and skywalk:
- The land bridge stands at 150 feet wide at its highest point and 165 feet wide
- The Skywalk is a 6 feet wide, 1,000 foot long merged trail whose entire length is ADA Accessible.
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Matching other park elements, the Skywalk has weathered steel finishes, whose mesh design allows guests to see all of their surroundings, even those below them. Bicycles are not allowed on the Skywalk but may be walked through it. It is open from sunrise to sunset and features an eating area and shaded areas for relaxation and wildlife viewing. More trees are on the way, having been delayed for delivery by the winter storm in February.
Phil Hardberger Park Conservancy is a nonprofit led by Hardberger, “with a vision of creating and protecting the best place in the heart of San Antonio where people can experience the natural world”.