According to Janae Spence, the city project sponsor, the cost of this portion of Phase 2 is just over $1 million, including a parking area to be paved on the east side of Latta at Convict Hill (left). Completion is expected in spring of 2018. She spoke recently at the Will Hampton Library. – photo: Ann Fowler
by Ann Fowler
OAK HILL – City staff gave an update recently on a portion of Phase 2 of the Violet Crown Trail, a 7-mile stretch that will ultimately connect Home Depot Blvd. with the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.
When finished, the Violet Crown Trail will be 30 miles in length, from Zilker Park to Hays County, ending a mile short of FM 150. Phase 1, a six-mile stretch from Zilker Park to Highway 290 West at Brodie Lane, has been completed.
According to Janae Spence, the city project sponsor, the cost of this portion of Phase 2—from Dick Nichols Park to Home Depot Blvd., is just over $1 million, including a parking area to be paved on the east side of Latta at Convict Hill. Completion is expected in spring of 2018.
Spence said, “Construction will start clearing from the east side of the trail to the west side, then construction will start from the west connection by Dick Nichols to the east.” The parking lot is planned to be installed last and will include space for a school bus to park.
While some local residents expressed concern that a parking lot might attract homeless who come to the nearby Abiding Love Church food pantry, Spence said that is unlikely because no bathrooms will be built at the location.
One reason for paving the parking lot is to lessen the chance of spreading an infestation of tawny crazy ants (TCAs), a highly invasive and destructive species of ants that have been identified at the site.
Several residents in the area have reported infestations of TCAs, first identified by pest control operator Tom Rasberry in Pasadena, Texas in 2002. TCAs have spread to 28 Texas counties, including Travis, Hays and Williamson.
TCAs invade homes and businesses, causing damage to electrical and computer systems. To lessen the spread of TCAs, officials suggest buying landscaping materials only from trusted dealers who can confirm no presence of TCAs.
Officials advised paving the parking area at Latta including improved drainage, as TCAs are attracted to wet, humid areas.
“This reduces the chances of a queen, brood and workers relocating their nest in parked vehicles and ‘hitching a ride’ to a new location to start a new crazy ant locality where they will spread further,” said Todd Bayless, a natural resources specialist with Travis County.
Phases 3, 4 and 5 will complete the Violet Crown Trail, the first regional trail system in Central Texas. The Trail was envisioned by the Hill Country Conservancy, with planning started in 2006.
Construction updates are available at austintexas.gov/violetcrowntrail.