The bridges project added nearly two miles of bicycle and pedestrian lanes to Austin’s Urban Trail network.
by Ann Fowler
AUSTIN – Oak Hill residents who like to bicycle downtown will find the ride much easier now with the opening of the MoPac Mobility Bridges, a project that has been on the drawing board since 2005.
The project added nearly two miles of bicycle and pedestrian lanes to Austin’s Urban Trail network, thanks to a partnership between city, federal and regional authorities and the Texas Department of Transportation. Construction took about 3.5 years.
Prior to the opening of bridges across Barton Creek and Loop 360, bicyclists were forced to ride with vehicular traffic along the shoulder on MoPac. Once the bridges were opened, Texas Department of Transportation officials wasted little time in replacing the MoPac shoulder previously used by bicyclists with an added vehicle lane.
Windmill Run resident Tom Thayer is an avid bicyclist and has used the bridges several times. He described them as great, and much safer than using south Lamar or other routes. He added that using those bridges shaves 15 minutes off his commute home.
“They really open up bike/pedestrian mobility from SW Austin to the central part of the city,” said Thayer. But he added, “There is a challenge getting from the Barton Creek bridge southbound, but the city has the YBC Trail planned (and partially funded) to provide access from the ‘Y’ to the bridge.”
Thayer envisions bicyclists using the bridges to attend events like Blues on the Green in addition to riding for fun and exercise.
“I can see it becoming a tourist destination as well for those renting bikes,” said Thayer. “Right now, it is the middle of summer and many people don’t even know they are open, so I expect use to increase with time. When the YBC Trail is complete, I think it will get even more use.”
Funding for the project came from:
Bicycle-specific bond funding from 2000, 2006 and 2010.
Proposition 12 Congestion Management funds through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO).
Surface Transportation and Metropolitan Mobility (STPMM) funding administered through the CAMPO.
$4.4 million from TxDOT to reclaim a MoPac highway lane.