State of the Trail previews TTF’s 15th anniversary in 2018
At The Trail Foundation’s annual State of the Trail address on Dec. 8, TTF’s executive director Heidi Anderson (formerly Cohn) announced 15 new projects in honor of TTF’s 15th anniversary next year. Slated for completion on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail over the next five years, the projects range from new trailheads and bathrooms to new water access points and playgrounds.
To pay for the 15 projects, The Trail Foundation also announced the creation of the Canopy Fund, in which donations will be dedicated to finance the initial phases of each future project. Nine projects are on the east side of the Trail, four on the west, and two along the entirety of the 10-mile Trail.
“I’m grateful to have joined this organization at such a pivotal and exciting time, with many current projects coming to fruition, new projects on the horizon, and the celebration of TTF’s 15th anniversary next year,” Anderson said. “The Trail Foundation has ambitious goals for the future, as the city of Austin and the number of Trail users continue to grow and the need to protect and enhance the Butler Trail grows with it.”
* TTF’s 15 projects announced today:
- Lakeshore Park, Deck, and Overlook: creation of two new gathering spaces on the east side of the Boardwalk, off Lakeshore Boulevard: an overlook platform at an existing outfall structure over the water, and a deck underneath the towering Live Oaks overlooking a grassy field and recreational space
- Pleasant Valley/Lakeshore Restroom: a new locally designed restroom at the intersection of Pleasant Valley and Lakeshore Blvd.
- Zilker Trailhead: with the closure of the parking lot underneath MoPac, parking will move to the lot adjacent to Zilker Park, increasing the number of people entering Trail between the end of the Zilker Berms and the native areas; TTF will create a new trailhead to address this increased use and protect the sensitive surrounding natural areas
- Holly Point – Fiesta Gardens Water Access: anticipating the realignment of the Trail along Holly Shore in 2019, TTF will create a more formalized access point along the water’s edge where people can drop in a kayak, fish, or take in the view that protects the natural habitat and allows people to enjoy water activities
- Lamar Boardwalk Study (Northshore): a feasibility study on an overwater boardwalk structure at the intersection of Lamar Blvd. and Cesar Chavez St., one of the Trail’s few remaining pinch points that poses a safety hazard with its close proximity to the busy street
- East Side Playground: formation of a new creative play space that will engage entire families and create a needed recreation space on the east side of the Trail
- Holly Shores Trailhead Connection to EastLink: a safe connection to the EastLink Trail at the Holly Shores Trail realignment, bringing together two important trails that will provide better connection for all Austinites
- Festival Beach Restroom Replacement: an inadequate existing restroom at Festival Beach will be replaced with a new and improved restroom designed by a local architect that’s perceptive of this special park space’s cultural identity and depth of history
- Four Seasons Parkland Slope: this project will address the storm water that flows down the steep slope of parkland adjacent to the Four Seasons Hotel, causing significant erosion of the Trail and lake edge, in an aesthetically pleasing and ecologically sensitive manner that prevents further damage. Future phases may include an overlook deck along the Trail to function as both a gathering spot and a barrier to protect the roots of existing shade trees
- North 1st Street Trail Under Bridge: development of a vision plan, scope, and conceptual design intended to improve the zone under the north side of the 1st Street Bridge while giving particular consideration to restoring and preserving the concrete abutment of the bridge itself, the walking/running surface that’s currently muddy and bumpy, and the natural habitat at the water’s edge. The planning project will include an extended zone on each side of the area under the bridge, and may potentially include seating, lighting, and artwork
- Holly Trail Enhancement: TTF will provide shade and cooling through creative design solutions and tree plantings to enhance the Austin PARD’s realignment of the Trail to the lake’s edge as part of the future phase of the Holly Master Plan
- Master Signage: installment of the master signage package on the east side of the Trail and a comprehensive inventory of all remaining signs along the entirety of the Trail to ensure signage is comprehensive, coordinated, and functional
- Bridge Studies: West I-35, Longhorn Dam, and Holly/Lakeshore Peninsula: while the west side of the Trail has regular north/south opportunities to cross the lake, the four miles of the Trail’s east side do not; TTF will conduct feasibility studies on three potential north/south crossings on the Trail’s east side to discover opportunities for future projects
- Pleasant Valley/Lakeshore Trailhead and Water Access: a new Trailhead at the Pleasant Valley and Lakeshore intersection will create a gathering space and water access point for people to meet and interact in a natural setting, while protecting the sensitive shoreline habitat (as shown in the TTF-created Southeast Shores Masterplan)
- Ecological Restoration: TTF’s ecological restoration program is entering its fifth year and will continue to grow in its sophistication and impact on the health of the Trail and surrounding parkland ecosystems, using the Ecological Restoration Guidelines as reference for its ongoing work
*These 15 projects are concepts and subject to change due to factors including funding, unforeseen issues, new opportunities or priorities, etc.
The State of the Trail address also featured a presentation from Gia Biagi, Studio Gang’s principal of urbanism and civic impact, who discussed the firm’s work reimagining the Seaholm Intake building on the shore of Lady Bird Lake. Public input for the project is being collected through Dec. 18, and the next phases of the project will include community engagement meet-ups in the space next year.
In addition, TTF announced it will break ground on the new Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue in early 2018, replacing the current wooden bridge with a 14-foot wide concrete and steel structure that will allow for cyclists and pedestrians to safely pass one another and add more space for people to view the popular Congress Avenue bridge bats.
The Trail Foundation’s 15th anniversary teaser video debuted today can be viewed here. To keep up with TTF’s 15th anniversary news, events and updates, use the official hashtag #TTFturns15.