As Waller Creek winds it way through the East end of downtown from Waterloo Park to Ladybird Lake, it forms a sunken urban river walk very similar to the well-developed tourist attraction in San Antonio. For years, developers have dreamed of transforming the river walk into a similar (though smaller scale) downtown destination with retail, restaurants, bars, and maybe even a gondola or two. The problem is flooding: if it were to rain again in Austin, the water would wipe it all away.
And this is why the City is building a very ambitious tunnel wish will somehow catch floodwaters and send them 70 feet underground to emerge elsewhere without wiping the gondolas away. The project is starting with the closure of Waterloo Park through 2015 to allow for construction and the staging of equipment.
According to the Statesman, “Waterloo Park is being fenced off from the public while the city builds the Waller Creek Tunnel, a massive public works project intended to transform a moribund, flood-prone section of eastern downtown into a smaller version of San Antonio’s popular River Walk”
The hope is to create an economic boom on the East end of downtown while creating a new draw for convention-goers and another reason for Austinites to spend time downtown.