A $2.5 million project that includes new, improved bridge that will enhance trail safety and the creation of a scenic bat-viewing area under Congress Avenue Bridge is officially underway. Members of local nonprofit the Trail Foundation climbed aboard a boat on Lady Bird Lake Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking for its Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue.
The project includes replacement of the current wooden bridge—which is more than 40 years old—on the north side of the lake with a 14-foot wide concrete and steel structure that similar to the Boardwalk, which extends over the water for approximately a mile on a part of the lake’s southern shore. That project, completed in 2014, was a collaboration between the Trail Foundation project) and the city of Austin.
The new, 172-foot long pedestrian bridge is intended to enhance trail safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by removing a blind curve on the existing structure, widening the pathway, making the area ADA-accessible, and connecting with the also recently improved trail that runs long the lake past the Waller Creek Boathouse area and tunnel terminal.
The new structure will reduce the city’s trail maintenance costs, according to Trail Foundation press materials. It will also include an area directly below the Radisson Hotel and Suites for viewing sunset departures of Austin’s famous Mexican free-tailed bats from underneath the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.
The current trail will remain open until the new route is completed, according to the Trail Foundation, although there will a brief detour up to Congress Avenue in place for a few weeks near the project’s end date.
National firm Freese and Nichols conducted the assessment, final design, and permitting for the project in early 2018. The pedestrian bridge is now under Construction of the pedestrian bridge is by Jay-Reese Contractors, which built the Pfluger Bridge and Boardwalk on the Trail.
The project is funded by private donors. It is expected to be completed this summer.