Collaboration: The Boardwalk

Boardwalk Grand Opening

The Boardwalk

Due to many issues including, private property holdings and topography, there was a 1.1-mile gap in the Trail at Lady Bird Lake, the 10 mile hub in Austin’s hub-and-spoke system of trails. Along this gap, users previously had to divert onto the narrow sidewalk and travel along busy Riverside Drive, crossing 35 busy business entrances and other points of conflict and crossing 6 lanes of I-35 access roads to travel east or west and use the south side of the Trail.

There are currently 3,000 to 15,000 people using the Trail every day of the year.  The Trail was formed in the 1970’s as part of a lakefront beautification effort. As the city grew in the 1980’s, it became a recreational resource. In 2011, the Trail is now serving our city in an additional way – an alternative transportation route for our growing urban core.

Completing the Trail along the lakefront has been discussed almost since the Trail’s inception.  The Boardwalk was initially conceived of by a visionary Parks Department employee, Butch Smith, about 20 years ago.  The Trail Foundation’s foundational 2007 Investment Study included important transportation data and focused the need to complete the Trail. This study was critical in providing a comprehensive analysis and clear articulation of the range of issues and options associated with completing the Trail.  The study included schematics of alternative alignments, conceptual designs, engineering issues, environmental issues, permitting requirements and public involvement options.

Sunrise on the BoardwalkThe City invested over $1.9 million in the design and permitting for completing the Trail.  Two private property owners along the route agreed to provide permanent easements for the Trail as well as trail maintenance on their land.  In total, this new Trail section extends about a half mile on each side of I-35.  On March 5, 2009,  the Council voted 7-0 to approve the alignment recommended by the Parks Department and complete the Boardwalk Design Phase.  The City completed an extensive public involvement process and the design is responsive to the public input. To close this gap, a partially overland and partially overwater trail has been built, using 2010 standards for longevity, multiple uses (walking, running, wheelchair, bicyclists of all levels), and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  It requires minimal maintenance and has a minimal impact on the lake. The Boardwalk project also included replacing an existing restroom at the east Boardwalk entrance. The completion of this section of the Trail is a investment in our quality of life and will serve many generations of Austinites from every corner of our community. See a map of the boardwalk.

The project is a public/private partnership. To that end, The Trail Foundation committed $3 million in private funds to support the hard construction cost. The 2010 Transportation Bond package, approved August 5, 2010 in a 7-0 vote by the City Council and by Austin voters in November 2010, included only partial funding for closing the gap. Trail completion is dependent on the city receiving $3 million in private funds that has now been raised by The Trail Foundation.

The Boardwalk - AerialsThis project provides safe, continuous ADA compliant pedestrian and bicycle access along a beautiful section of the public’s lake and parkland. Visitors and citizens of all levels of ability are able to access the town’s lake and have a safe transportation alternative to riding in a car. The Boardwalk project also included replacing an existing restroom that had fallen into disrepair on the east landing. Completing this section of lakefront trail has also linked communities on the city’s east side to the downtown area as well as to the westside.

Two people died before the Trail’s popular Pfluger Bridge was built and that bridge has proved to be enormously important for providing a safe north-south pedestrian route over Lady Bird Lake.  That bridge cost $9.5 million.

Completing the Trail closed a large gap in our transportation and recreation system. The Trail benefits all of Austin and is worth the needed public and private investment.

Project Launch was on August 3, 2012 at 10 a.m. with a joint City/TTF ceremony at International Shores Park.  Construction started in October 2012 and was completed early June 2014. A celebration of the Boardwalk opening occurred on June 7th, 2014 at 10 a.m. and featured a ribbon cutting ceremony, music by the SoundWaves, a festive march across the Boardwalk led by the Eastside Panther Drumline, and an aerial dance performance under I-35 by Blue Lapis Light, which was underwritten by Silicon LabsPhotos of this monumental event can be viewed in our flickr album.

View parking areas and Boardwalk entrances on our maps.


2016 Texas Society of Architects – Design Award; AIA Austin – Design Award
2015 Urban Land Institute Impact Award for Public Places
2014 The Chronicle Best New Way to Avoid IH-35

Complete the Trail Donors


Mrs. Ann S. Butler · The Moody Foundation of Galveston · St. David’s Foundation

$100,000 – $499,999+

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation · Luci Baines Johnson · CDK-Riverside, LLC · Grayco Partners · Whataburger/ Lynne Dobson & Greg Wooldridge · Austin Parks Foundation · Griffin Davis & Heather Keating · H-E-B · James M. Cox Foundation · Cypress Real Estate Advisors · Jonny Jones/ Jones Energy Ltd.

$10,000 – $99,999+

Jefferson Boyt & Nada Lulic · Texas Gas Service/ ONEOK Foundation · The Charles & Betti Saunders Foundation Fund · Cheryl & Walt Penn · Roger K. Beasley · Marsha & Robert Jones · Bill Kerr · Jeanne & Lew Little · Laura Sandefer · Jack & Nancy Collins · Dan & Nancy Garrison · Susan Plettman Rankin · Christopher Kennedy · Admiral & Mrs. Bobby R. Inman · Michael & Christie McConnell · Grant & Margot Thomas · Jules & Zachary Elkins · Brian & Julianne Ott · Chaparral Foundation · Jeff Trigger · Q1Media/ AdExcite · Jay-Reese Contractors · Austin Community Foundation · Cirrus Logic · The Knaggs Family

$5,000 – $9,999+

The DuBose Family Foundation · Robyn & Craig Malloy · Derek & Rindi McDonald · Eric & LaRhonda Niccum · Laurie & David Weaver · Werner Family Foundation · Bob Wynn

$1,000 – $4,999+

The Miller Family Charitable Fund · Texas Realty Capital, LP · Charley Dean · Craig & Sandra Fleming · Careen Foster · Jon & Michelle Levy · Jenny McMillan · Stephanie Shoemaker · Mark & Asher Flynn · Tony Capasso · The Laurel Foundation · Ward Tisdale · Colin Wallis · Gary & Paula Amaon · David Andrews · Philip & Donna Berber · Gene & Ruthie Burrus · Charity Dynamics · Eve Chenu · Joe Christie · James Cowles & Katelena Hernandez Cowles · Germaine Curry & Borge Endresen · Joseph Daly · Jennifer Brown Emerson · Rex Gore · John & Laura Loudamy · Katherine Lowery · Majorie & Al McClurg · Jeff & Phyllis Nelson · David Newberger · Jeff & Robin Picard · Professional Janitorial Service of Texas, Inc. · Dan & Kimberly Renner · Mary Anne Robinson · Sarah Russ · Todd & Sarah Wehner

$250 – $999+

The Arch & Stella Rowan Foundation · Hill Abell & Laura Agnew · Teresa Albright M.D. · AMD Foundation · Jewel Arrington & Paul J. Van Osselaer · Karen Bantuveris & Greg Hallman · Kent Cole · James & Christine Cowden · Gary & Gette Davis · Genevieve Duncan · Cheryl & Jim George · Eric & Elizabeth Goldreyer · Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. · Drs. Russ & Isabel Hoverman · Paul & Anne Isham · Johnathan Lee · Loucks Family Foundation · Jim & Cindy Lynn · Dave & Ana Martin · Susan Bujan & Robert Meyer · Bonnie Mills · Katie Moran · Robert Morrison · O’Hare Family Foundation · Stefan Pharis · Pamela & Michael Reese · Todd Runkle · The Shook Family · Alexander & Irene Shoghi · Thomas Sikes · Patricia Spurr · Drs. Roseann Mandzuik & James Studer · Ellen & Charlile Willmore · Jim & Betty Wilson · Brian & Elizabeth Temple · Andy Albright · Ralph& Beverly Daugherty · Chris & Alice Gunter · Louis Kokernak · Matt & Erin Thomson · Scott Trull · Baden, Schaefer & Klein · Jerry Bell · Don & Jane Berman · Paul G. Bernhard · Morgan Binswanger · John & Nancy Bosch · Kirstin & Larry Bradshaw · Scott Branson · Steve & Mollie Butler · Sam & Anne Byars · Lee & Debbie Cameron · Marlene & Jimmy Clayton · Tom & Jane Coefield · Ken & Lorrie DeAngelis · Scott Diedrick · Patricia & Rosie Dixon · Steven Dobberfuhl · Dean Dreier · Claude DuCloux · Michael E. Engels · Gary & Carol Epple · Joshua Flanagan · Michael Froehls · Allison & Jeff Gerold · Veena Gondhalekar · Charles Granberry · Harvey & Kathleen Guion · Cynthia Powell & Tom Harsh · Alan & Cheryl Haywood · The Heusner Family · James & Mickey Holtzman · Carole & Chris Jordan · Paul Karon · Sharon Kerr · Knox Key · Liza Layne · James & Cathy Little · Michelle Martinez · James Martino · David, Jean & Daniel Mattka · Elizabeth McGuire · Mary Lynn McNallie · Jeff Russell & Elizabeth Moorehead · Jason Perez · Tracy & Mark Picone · Jack Pope · Jim Thomassen & Sheela Rai · Peter & Eva Riley · Richard Pappas & Adrienne Rivers · Thomas & Trecia Roberts · Alex & Robbie Robinette · William & Lesa Rossick · Matt Sjoberg · Dan & Louisa Slaughter · Ernest & Paula Smith · Lindsay & Ford Smith · F.W. Sultan · Colleen & Brad Theriot · Tommy & Michelle Wald · Mai & Mike Ward · Ken & Marla Whelan · Jim & Kathleen Wicoff · Dan & Kristi Williams · Eric & Ann Wilson · Howard & Norine Yukon