The Hike and Bike Trail that runs alongside Ladybird Lake in downtown Austin is one of the City’s most-valued recreational areas. 3,000 – 15,000 people use the trails each day to run, walk, bike, or relax. Unfortunately, the trail loop is incomplete: a 1.1 mile gap on the south shore on either side of I-35 is a problematic hole in a much-loved 10-mile loop. Ttrail users who venture East of Congress Avenue on the south shore “must 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.”
Early this year, the City passed $14.4 million in bonds to build a boardwalk in the lake to close the entire 1.1 mile gap. The bonds were contingent on a contribution of $3 million in private funds to be raised by the Trail Foundation. This week, the Trail foundation announced good news: they have quickly raised $2.4 million of the $3 million goal and are increasing the target to $5 million to fund additional trail improvements.
According to KVUE, “the project would begin near the Austin American-Statesman on the south side of the lake. It would continue under I-35 and reconnect to the hike and bike trail at South Lake Shore Park.It would sit five to six feet above the water on galvanized steel and concrete piers. Part of the boardwalk would be on land. More than half will be over the water because land access is not available. The 1.1 mile project will connect the 10-mile loop of the newly-named Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.”
Construction of the trail extension should begin in Spring of 2012 and will take up to two years to be fully completed.