The Trail Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to the upkeep of the city’s Hike and Bike Trail, celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony last night commemorating the start of construction on a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge for the stretch of the trail underneath the north end of the Congress Avenue Bridge. According to the foundation, the bridge is planned to open this summer, with a price tag of $2.5 million.
In addition to its utility for trail users, the 14-foot wide pedestrian structure will serve as a viewing platform for the bat colonies underneath the bridge. According to the Trail Foundation’s press release announcing the groundbreaking, the structure will be built from concrete and steel with a design stated to be similar to that of the trail’s boardwalk, and that’s a pretty safe bet — contracting firm Jay-Reese, which built both the boardwalk and the trail’s Pfluger pedestrian bridge, will also handle this bridge’s construction.
The existing section of trail under the Congress Avenue Bridge is an aging wooden structure too narrow to allow cyclists and pedestrians to pass safely:
In addition to the bat viewing area, the new 172-foot long pedestrian bridge will also enhance Trail safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by removing a blind curve on the existing structure, widening the pathway to allow cyclists and runners to pass each other safely without the risk of collision, making the area ADA-accessible, connecting the Trail to the Waller Creek area, and lowering the city’s maintenance costs.
— The Trail Foundation, March 29, 2018
Keeping that in mind, it’s no surprise that the Line is listed in the Trail Foundation’s donor list as a “Lakefront Sponsor” — indicating the hotel has donated $50,000 or more towards the bridge’s completion. Amusingly enough, one of the Line’s four restaurants is a burger bar named Bridge & Trail. Draw your own conclusions, folks.