Officials ready innovative deck park over Dallas freeway

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by ERIC VALADEZ

WFAA

Posted on October 22, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:44 PM

Klyde Warren Park

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DALLAS — Nestled between the skyscrapers and trendy condos in downtown Dallas now sits a modern marvel.

The park that some said would never be built is now days from opening. Klyde Warren Park is an oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle, straddling Uptown and downtown Dallas.

For the last six years, it's been Program Director Keith Bjerke's baby.

"This one has been the most gratifying because it was such a challenge," Bjerke said during a tour last week.

The challenge is hanging a garden 17 feet above Woodall Rodgers Freeway. It's been Bjerke's job to put a park where there is no land.

It's the longest project Bjerke's ever worked on, saying "it's pretty gratifying." The engineering is nothing short of amazing, he said.

High above the eight lanes of traffic tunneling through downtown sits the support for the park. It's an intricate patchwork of more than 300 beams trucked in from out of town.

It's pieced together, creating deep pockets for the garden above. There's also a waterproof membrane that keeps water from seeping below.

Klyde Warren Park President Mark Banta called the park a collaboration among many. "This project was a game changer," he said.

The park is so impressive that it caught the attention of the Travel Channel. By the time the park opens, a total of 500 workers will have worked on it. 

There are 322 trees planted in a special soil mix, along with 904 shrubs and more than 3,200 plants. The Polyphonic Spree will grace the stage at the park's performance pavilion for  its grand opening on Saturday. 

All these amenities serve as the foundation for a park that aims to change Dallas. The $110 million achievement is one of just a handful of parks nationwide built over a freeway.

It's a public and private partnership, and the largest project to receive federal stimulus money in Texas.

Klyde Warren Park is something Bjerke says he's proud to put his name on.

E-mail evaladez@wfaa.com

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