AUSTIN, Texas — Many say one of the best parts of living in Austin is the separation its natural beauty provides from the daily grind of urban living. But the city's trails haven't seen improvements in decades.
On Wednesday, the public got its first look at upgrade plans for the Shoal Creek Urban trail. Our Stef Manisero shows us why some say it's long overdue.
“I’ve been walking the trail for 12 years,” said Ian Inglis, a Shoal Creek neighbor.
Spending time on the Shoal Creek Urban Trail is one of Inglis' favorite things about living in Austin.
He walks to work on the trail pretty much every day.
But, originally built in the 60s...
“Shoal Creek needs some help, no question about it,” Inglis said.
He says his commute could use some TLC.
“Sometimes it’s impassible like it was a couple of days ago, you have to walk around, you can’t walk on the trail, literally, too much water,” said Inglis.
The trail sits in a flood plain right above Shoal Creek, known to expand when there's heavy rain.
“Right now we have steep slopes on the creek banks, we have some erosion concerns at some places along the creek from the flooding,” said Nicholas Kehl with the engineering company Walker Partners.
Plans to improve the route are now in the early stages.
The first phase of the project — the preliminary engineering report - will help the city determine a more detailed plan going forward.
Project leaders are looking at beautification, adding lights and benches, and widening the eight-foot pathway to 12 feet.
“It barely accommodates two-way bicycle, pedestrian, people in a wheelchair, strollers, seniors,” said Nadia Barrera with the City of Austin Public Works Department.
As well as flood mitigation techniques, like retaining walls.
“The floods are getting more frequent, the heights of the water is getting higher,” Inglis said.
Something Inglis would like to worry about less, so he can spend more time enjoying the place he calls home.
“It’s a wonderful thing to walk to work and see the wildlife and watch the seasons pass, and walk in the cold and walk in the heat,” said Inglis.
After completing the study, the engineers will give their recommendation to the city this fall. The city will then look to move forward with a design phase. Right now, it's unclear how the project will be funded.