Due to many issues including, private property holdings and topography, there was a 1.1-mile gap in the Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the 10-mile hub in Austin’s hub-and-spoke system of trails. Along this gap, users previously had to divert onto the narrow sidewalk and travel along busy Riverside Drive, crossing 35 busy business entrances and other points of conflict and crossing 6 lanes of I-35 access roads to travel east or west and use the south side of the Trail.
Completing the Trail along the lakefront had been discussed almost since the Trail’s inception. The Boardwalk was initially conceived of by a visionary Parks Department employee, Butch Smith, about 20 years ago. The Trail Foundation’s foundational 2007 Investment Study included important transportation data and focused the need to complete the Trail. This study was critical in providing a comprehensive analysis and clear articulation of the range of issues and options associated with completing the Trail. The study included schematics of alternative alignments, conceptual designs, engineering issues, environmental issues, permitting requirements and public involvement options.
The City invested over $1.9 million in the design and permitting for completing the Trail. Two private property owners along the route agreed to provide permanent easements for the Trail as well as trail maintenance on their land. In total, this new Trail section extends about a half mile on each side of I-35. On March 5, 2009, the Council voted 7-0 to approve the alignment recommended by the Parks Department and complete the Boardwalk Design Phase. The City completed an extensive public involvement process and the design is responsive to the public input. To close this gap, a partially overland and partially overwater trail has been built, using 2010 standards for longevity, multiple uses (walking, running, wheelchair, bicyclists of all levels), and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It requires minimal maintenance and has a minimal impact on the lake. The Boardwalk project also included replacing an existing restroom at the east Boardwalk entrance. The completion of this section of the Trail is an investment in our quality of life and will serve many generations of Austinites from every corner of our community.
The project is a public/private partnership. To that end, The Trail Foundation committed $3 million in private funds to support the hard construction cost. The 2010 Transportation Bond package, approved August 5, 2010, in a 7-0 vote by the City Council and by Austin voters in November 2010, included only partial funding for closing the gap. Trail completion is dependent on the city receiving $3 million in private funds that have now been raised by The Trail Foundation.
This project provides safe, continuous ADA compliant pedestrian and bicycle access along a beautiful section of the public’s lake and parkland. Visitors and citizens of all levels of ability are able to access the town’s lake and have a safe transportation alternative to riding in a car. The Boardwalk project also included replacing an existing restroom that had fallen into disrepair on the east landing. Completing this section of lakefront trail has also linked communities on the city’s east side to the downtown area as well as to the westside.
Completing the Trail closed a large gap in our transportation and recreation system. The Trail benefits all of Austin and is worth the needed public and private investment.
Construction started in October 2012 and was completed in early June 2014.
- Project Management
- Event Planning