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Trail project moves to complete Oltorf-Riverside connection

Thursday, July 7, 2022 by Kali Bramble

The city’s Public Works Department is gearing up to finally complete a 3.5-mile urban trail that would connect Mabel Davis and Roy G. Guerrero Park in Southeast Austin.

The new trail segment would bridge the existing gap between trails ending on East Riverside and Oltorf streets. With site plans submitted earlier this month and a green light from the Design Commission awarded last Tuesday, the missing link will complete the Country Club Creek Trail project first envisioned back in 2014.

Community support for the trail network predates the city-funded Urban Trails Project, with the East Riverside/Oltorf Combined Neighborhood Plan’s finding back in 2006 that access to nearby parks was impossible without traversing a major thoroughfare. Over the next several years, the South East Austin Trails and Greenway Alliance partnered with the Austin Parks Foundation, mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to lay down a crushed gravel trail along Guerrero Park to Elmont Drive.

In 2014, the city’s Urban Trails Plan introduced the concept for Country Club Creek Trail, a continuous bike and pedestrian path connecting the swath of land bordered by Ben White Boulevard and Guerrero Park. Funding from 2016 and 2020 mobility bonds brought the concept to life, with the project inching forward in discrete phases across all but the creekside stretch of land between East Oltorf and Riverside.

Now, the city plans to finish Country Club Creek Trail with a 12-foot-wide, off-street concrete path with grassy, tree-shaded shoulders designed to carry both bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The path will be wheelchair accessible and feature several raised boardwalks, as well as an underpass to circumvent car traffic on East Riverside.

“We think this is going to be a much more pleasant and safer alternative to get across Riverside than what’s there now,” project coordinator Dylan Johnstone said. “And we are in coordination with Project Connect’s Blue Line team as they come through with future changes for the corridor as well.”

Public Works has partnered closely with the Watershed Protection Department, with plans to restore riparian zones along eroded segments of Country Club Creek and protect the historically flood-prone area from runoff.

Staffers aim to begin construction in spring 2023, though dates are still tentative. In the meantime, hikers and bikers can check out the city’s interactive map to learn more about existing and pending trails in Southeast Austin.

Photo of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail by Daderot, CC0 1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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