Portions of Walnut Creek Metro Park trails to close

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by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 2 at 6:20 PM

AUSTIN -- The "trail to nowhere," as it's been called, is going places after more than 10 years of delays and setbacks.

"There were some issues with funding, and there were some permitting issues," said Austin Public Works Department Communications Manager Carolyn Perez. 

Construction of North Austin's Walnut Creek trail system is in full swing.

Though the final design is still in the works, phase one of the northern section connecting Walnut Creek Metro Park to Balcones District Park has started. The southern portion between Govalle Park and Johnny Morris Road is mostly complete.

The trail system creates a 10-foot-wide paved trail that's more than 11 miles long with two-foot shoulders. It's an addition to the existing unpaved hike and bike trails that are a favorite among Austin's cycling community.

"It opens access for everybody, and all of our taxpayer dollars pay for this, so all of us should be able to use it utopically," said bicyclist Pat Fuller.

Still, the upcoming closures for phase one of the northern trail have many cyclists less than thrilled. Starting Saturday Jan. 4, multiple mountain biking trails, mainly those west of Walnut Creek, will close until Sept. 1.

"It's going to be closed down through the entire prime riding season," said Fuller. "It's some of the best sections of trail network, but in the long term it will pay off. In the short term, it's a loss."

"Yes, we are going to have to close some of the mountain bike trails. The reason being they're criss-crossed right through our path of construction," said Perez. "But this is an effort to put in a multi-use trail. We really want to make these resources, these beautiful parks, available to as many people as possible, whether they walk, they're in wheelchairs, moms with strollers."

The total cost to build the trail system is about $16 million. That money is coming from the Texas Department of Transportation, the federal government, Austin's Parks and Recreation Department and voter-approved bonds. 

The entire trail is expected to be finished in 2016.

Go here for the construction timeline.

Go here for a map of the Walnut Creek Metro Park trails.

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