Construction begins on lakefront boardwalk in downtown Austin

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin is a popular recreational area. It features 10 miles of land, attracts about 1.5 million visitors each year and provides scenic views of some of the city's cultural attractions, neighborhoods and skyscrapers.

Construction is underway on the new Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk Trail Project, a path that will link the current end of the trail near the Austin American Statesman Building to Lakeshore Park and close the southeastern gap of the trail. City officials noted that the new boardwalk could be completed in 2014, and people who are exploring some of the homes for sale in Austin may be directly impacted by the project.

The history of Lady Bird Lake and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail
Town Lake was created in 1960 after the creation of the Longhorn Dam on the Colorado River in Austin. A Town Lake Beautification Committee was established in 1971 that included several prominent Austin citizens, including Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady of the United States. This group prioritized creating a rural escape for local residents within an urban setting and developed hiking and biking trails along the lake for visitors to enjoy.

In 2007, the lake was renamed Lady Bird Lake, and the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail was renamed the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail four years later.

The effect of the boardwalk project
Austin residents could soon enjoy the increased efforts of city officials to beautify the shores of Austin's central city lake. In 2008, the Austin City Council approved funding for the design and engineering of the new boardwalk, and when it is done, the mixed-use trail extension will be 1.2 miles long from International Shores Park off Lakeshore Boulevard.

More contractors are expected to provide support for the project next year. The work will progress westward and construction west of IH-35 is planned for late spring 2013.

Additionally, contractors will use a wide variety of large, heavy equipment to complete the project. Construction areas are expected to be busy for the immediate future, and several city administrators are encouraging residents to be aware of the construction.

"For safety reasons, we're asking the public to stay at least 200 feet away from the barges and equipment," said David Taylor, the city's project manager.