On June 7, 2014, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and The Trail Foundation unveiled a new section of the Lady Bird Lake (commonly known as Town Lake) trail. The trail is widely used by city residents and visitors for hiking, running, and cycling – and is especially busy during the weekends. Austinites are now enjoying a new above-water boardwalk extension, which connects a gap in the circuit that previously existed on the southeastern side of the trail.
Environmental studies were completed before the start of the project and environmental advisers were consulted throughout the construction process. The boardwalk extension was built above water for financial and aesthetic reasons, but the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation realized that this design aspect could potentially have a negative effect on the surrounding area. As flash flooding is an increasing issue along creeks throughout the city, the trail extension has been specifically designed to have minimal impact on water flow, especially in times of flooding. In addition to flood preparedness, the environmental studies required for permitting also examined the effects the boardwalk may have on riparian habitat, wetlands, and wildlife. The designers took these conservation issues into account in an effort to minimize ecological impact.
The City of Austin is constantly striving to support sustainable infrastructure and initiatives, and this boardwalk is an excellent example of the steps they are taking to achieve their goals. If you are in Austin and would like to check out the brand new boardwalk extension, I would recommend it!
For more information and a map indicating the boardwalk section of the trail, check out The Trail Foundation’s info page: http://www.thetrailfoundation.org/explore/about-the-butler-trail/