AUSTIN, Texas — A new walking and biking trail is being created in southeast Austin.
The "rails-to-trails" project will convert the old Bergstrom Spur railroad tracks into the 6.5-mile Bergstrom Spur Trail. It will start along Vinson Drive in the St. Elmo area, go under Interstate 35, past Todd Lane and will then stretch all the way to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
“What I'm most excited about is that this is Austin's first rails-to-trails project,” said Katie Wettick, the Urban Trails Program manager with the City of Austin's Public Works Department. “So across the country, people are taking these abandoned railroad corridors and turning them into trails. And I am thrilled to be bringing that to Austin.”
The trail can be used for recreational activities, but it is being created to help provide more options for people to get around in the southeast Austin area.
“Maybe someone is going to bike out to the airport, maybe someone's just going to bike or walk to their nearby school or where they work," Wettick said. "But then, also, it's going to be six miles. So, I’m a runner. I know that I would definitely use it to go for a run."
This project started back in 2019 with the Bergstrom Spur Corridor Study, where the City looked at what could be created and how it could be done. Now the project is in its design phase.
“We're looking at how is drainage going to function when we're putting in concrete? We're looking at, are there any environmental features? What kind of landscaping are we going to add?” Wettick said. “How wide is the trail going to be?”
The trail will have three sections. There are three engineering firms working on the designs, one for each section of the trail. Wettick said that by this summer, the design teams should be able to release renderings of the designs to the public for input. She said they would do this when they reach 60% of the design and have an idea of what they want it to look like.
You won't be able to walk or bike on the trail anytime soon though. The first two sections of the trail are set to start construction in 2024, while the third part of the trail near the airport won't start construction until 2025. The eastern portion will take longer because Wettick said there are some obstacles the team will need to work around when it comes to building the trail.
PEOPLE ARE ALSO READING: