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The Trail Foundation breaks ground on Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue project

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Construction on the new wider, safer over-water bridge and bat-viewing deck slated for completion this summer

AUSTIN (3/29/18)— The Trail Foundation celebrated the groundbreaking of its Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue project aboard a boat on Lady Bird Lake yesterday evening at the construction site. The $2.5 million project, slated for completion this summer, will update a decades-old wooden bridge, add vital safety improvements, and create a scenic bat viewing area.

The current aging infrastructure underneath the north side of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge will be replaced with a new 14-foot wide concrete and steel structure that extends over the water similar to the Boardwalk, which The Trail Foundation completed in 2014 in collaboration with the City of Austin.

In addition to the bat viewing area, the new 172-foot long pedestrian bridge will also enhance Trail safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by removing a blind curve on the existing structure, widening the pathway to allow cyclists and runners to pass each other safely without the risk of collision, making the area ADA-accessible, connecting the Trail to the Waller Creek area, and lowering the city’s maintenance costs.

There will be minimal disruption to the daily pedestrian activity in this area of the Trail. The Trail will remain until the new overwater route is completed, with a brief detour taking place near the end of the project for roughly weeks. The detour will direct Trail users up Congress Ave. while the new bridge is connected to the existing Trail and the old wooden bridge decking is removed.

The Trail Foundation’s executive director Heidi Anderson and board member/15th anniversary committee co-chair Griffin Davis gave remarks at the private event.

“This stretch of the Trail has remained the same for roughly 40 years,” Anderson said. “The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue will increase the area’s safety, and further enhance the aesthetic and beauty of our city’s crown jewel.”

Davis said: “With the growth of Austin, continued downtown residential and office development, and the completion of the Boardwalk, the Trail is being used more frequently, especially the areas east of Congress Avenue. The Trail Foundation is dedicated to keeping up with this growing demand, and continuing to protect and preserve this amazing public amenity.”

Private donations make it possible for The Trail Foundation to preserve and enhance the Trail. Robert F. Smith, founder, chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners in Austin, is the Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue’s leading sponsor with a donation of $1.25 million.

“I am thrilled to support the construction of the new Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue, and I’m excited to work with The Trail Foundation to bring this important project to fruition,” Smith said. “Those of us lucky enough to call Austin home, and the many visitors to this city, use the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake every single day. An investment in the Trail is an investment in Austin’s future—one that will keep our most cherished outdoor asset safe, accessible, and enjoyable for many years to come.”

Freese and Nichols completed the assessment, final design, and permitting for the project in early 2018. The pedestrian bridge is now under construction by Jay-Reese Contractors, the contracting firm that built Austin’s Pfluger Bridge and Boardwalk on the Trail.

The Lakefront Sponsors ($50K and up) are Austin Parks Foundation, Cox Enterprises, Jay-Reese Contractors, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, Line ATX Hotel, Luci Baines Johnson and Ian Turpin, Claudette Hartman, Bill Wood, and Jonna and Jill Foundation. The Woodland Sponsors ($25K and up) are the Aragona Family Foundation, Austin Runners Club, Downtown Austin Alliance, HomeAway, MFI Foundation, Outdoor Voices, René and Ron Albee, Heather Keating and Griffin Davis, Louis Kokernak, Sheridan and Perry Lorenz, Ellen and Steven Miura, Nona Niland, friends and family of Warren Walters, ECG Foundation, Mary and Howard Yancy, and Team TTF 2016-17.

Additional sponsors include the LBJ Family Foundation, Texas Realty Capital, Stahl Family Foundation, and Corbett Family Charitable Foundation, Congress Avenue Kayaks, Anonymous Donor, and Tausha and Chris Carlson.

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About The Trail Foundation

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, The Trail Foundation’s mission is to protect, enhance, and connect the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike-Trail at Lady Bird Lake for the benefit of all. The Butler Trail is the 10-mile lush, urban path in the heart of Austin that gets more than 2.6 million visits every year. Since its founding, The Trail Foundation has achieved restoration and beautification projects to the Trail’s infrastructure and environment, while honoring the original vision of the Trail’s founders and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come.

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