Grand opening of land bridge at Houston’s Memorial Park postponed until 2023

Weather-related construction delays have pushed back the grand opening date, initially scheduled for Dec. 10-11, according to the Memorial Park Conservancy.

Memorial Park Land Bridge Rendering
Nelson Byrd Woltz

The grand opening of the Memorial Park Land Bridge & Prairie project, originally scheduled for Dec. 10-11, has been postponed until next year.

The Memorial Park Conservancy announced earlier this week that the postponement was caused by weather-related delays in completing the project, which started in August 2020 with an estimated cost of $70 million. The part of Memorial Drive that runs through Houston’s largest urban park has been transformed with four vehicular tunnels – two for westbound traffic and two for eastbound travelers – with a pair of 35-foot hills built over the tunnels that will connect the north and sides of the park for hikers, cyclists and wildlife.

The project’s grand opening, billed as “The Biggest Picnic in Texas” with live music, face painting and food trucks, is now slated for “early 2023,” according to the conservancy’s website.

“Once rescheduled, the new dates will be shared,” the conservancy said in a Tuesday news release.

A spokesperson for the Memorial Park Conservancy said it “does not have any meaningful details to share” beyond the brief statement it released.

The land bridge project is part of the conservancy’s 10-year, $200 million master plan for Memorial Park, which sees more than 4 million visitors per year and since 2020 has hosted a PGA Tour event at Memorial Park Golf Course. The Clay Family Eastern Glades and the first phase of a sports complex have previously been completed as part of the master plan.

The addition of about 100 acres of prairie with native Gulf Coast vegetation is part of the land bridge project, which will provide scenic views of Downtown Houston from atop the hills while aiming to mitigate flooding risks and reduce the impacts of climate change. A wildlife tunnel also has been created that runs underneath Memorial Drive.

Approximately 500,000 cubic yards of soil from within Memorial Park was used to create the land bridges, according to the conservancy’s website, which said that soil was enriched with compost created from green material inside the park.

“This project is the largest urban prairie restoration in Texas,” the conservancy says on its website. “And prairies play a critical role ensuring a healthier and more resilient environment through their capacity to absorb stormwater, sequester carbon and foster biodiversity.”