About Us

Make a Donation
Fully-Local • Non-Partisan • Public-Service Journalism

Joint committee hears plan for Lady Bird Lake boardwalk

Thursday, January 29, 2009 by Austin Monitor

The latest concept plan for the boardwalk trail at Lady Bird Lake – an ambitious $12 million effort to finally close the hike and bike loop on the lakeshore – got a  warmer reception than past discussions at a joint subcommittee meeting of the Environmental Board/Parks Board last Thursday night.

The audience – many of them residents in the 48-unit condominium project at 1818 Lakeshore – far outnumbered the pair of commissioners at the meeting – Mary Ann Neely and Linda Guerrero. Engineer David Taylor of Carter Burgess laid out a broad plan for the boardwalk, which will cross a tricky combination of water, public land and private property between the Austin American-Statesman building and Lakeshore Point at Lakeshore Park on, of course, Lakeshore Boulevard.

Residents of developments along the water want to make sure their lakeside views are preserved. And environmentalists want to minimize the impact of the structure, which is described as concrete pier foundations with a steel structure, a concrete plank deck, relatively transparent handrails and low -level lighting.

Taylor reviewed the trail by segment. The trail, 14 feet wide, is expected to take land course wherever possible. It would have a number of periodic stops – roughly every 1,000 feet – and minor supporting facilities. The facility would be roughly 4 to 6 feet above water with a minimum profile.

Preliminary work would suggest the route could be accomplished on land between the Statesman, past the soon-to-be-redeveloped 222 and 300 Riverside sites up to Loop 1. A second segment would then include a mix of land and some water crossings along the shore up to Joe’s Crab Shack.

The alignment of a third section would pass various developments and would require land, parallel to Riverside Drive. Then, in a fourth proposed segment, the trail has to make a careful jog past Norwood Estates – something of keen concern to Guerrero — with a possible future connection to the dog park.

At that point, the trail crosses under Interstate 35 at Riverside Drive. The trail could take a jog over the water to be more compatible with a boat launch or travel on land and water past the new Star Riverside development. The final segments would occur primarily over water between the Acton School of Business and past The Breakers. The developer would like to work with Amli Properties to attempt to put trail back on land past Amli’s apartments.

Then, in a final segment, it’s a jog out into the water due to a boat launch at 1818 Lakeshore Drive, ending up at Lakeshore Point.

The work on the trail is still in its earliest phases, with more specific engineering work occurring through the spring. Taylor said members of his team had been out to visit various properties, scouting the locations and attempting to take the route out of the flood plain and the steep grades at various parts along the shore.

Challenges Taylor listed include flood plain location, respect to existing property, adequate connections, limited parking and, of course, funding.

The city has set aside $1.8 million for preliminary engineering. Another $2.5 million has been set aside for construction from another project, said Stuart Strong. Strong said the boardwalk was a part of the city’s suggested projects for the impending stimulus package, meaning it would have to be ready to go to construction sometime in the current fiscal year to meet proposed requirements.

Members of the Parks Board have expressed a strong commitment to this boardwalk – both because property owners have come forward to donate significant right-of-way along the shoreline and because the trail connection would complete Lady Bird Johnson’s vision for the former Town Lake, now named in her honor.

Engineering will continue into the spring.

Join Your Friends and Neighbors

We're a nonprofit news organization, and we put our service to you above all else. That will never change. But public-service journalism requires community support from readers like you. Will you join your friends and neighbors to support our work and mission?

Back to Top