Bridge could get better paths for cyclists, pedestrians

The City of Austin has worked hard to improve infrastructure that helps pedestrians and cyclists safely get around town, but some big gaps in the network remain. With a boardwalk trail that will bring more bike and foot traffic to Lady Bird Lake currently under construction, the city is now planning improvements that might close one of those gaps at a bridge along Longhorn Dam, where Pleasant Valley Road crosses the water next to Roy G. Guerrero Colorado River Park.

Mobility improvements on Pleasant Valley Road over the dam could make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to travel around the lake, parks, East Austin, the East Riverside Corridor and the Burleson Heights area. Click to enlarge. (Google maps)

A mobility project at Pleasant Valley Road over Lady Bird Lake could make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to travel around the lake, parks, East Austin, the East Riverside Corridor and the Burleson Heights area. Click to enlarge. (Source: Google maps)

According to a May 16 memo from the directors of the Public Works and Transportation departments to the mayor and City Council, the city plans to add new bike and pedestrian paths to the bridge based on a six-month traffic study, which revealed that improving signal timing and adding lanes at the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and E. Cesar Chavez St. could ease traffic congestion enough to reduce the number of motor vehicle lanes on the Pleasant Valley bridge. Removing two lanes is seen as cost-effective and as the only way to significantly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists on the existing structure, the memo says.

Planners are considering:

  • Reducing motor vehicle lanes from four to two on Pleasant Valley over the bridge.
  • Adding two bicycle lanes on the bridge.
  • Completing an accessible sidewalk on the east side of Pleasant Valley Road between Cesar Chavez St. and Lakeshore Blvd.
  • Adding a pedestrian path on the west side of the bridge to allow pedestrians to continue on the trail that forms a loop around Lady Bird Lake.
  • Building median islands on Pleasant Valley to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the road between trails and parks.
A proposed mobility project would bring new bike lanes and pedestrian paths to Pleasant Valley Road over Longhorn Dam, and reduce motor vehicle lanes from four to two. Click to enlarge. (Source: City of Austin)

A south-facing rendering shows how the Pleasant Valley Road bridge could look if a proposed  mobility project adds new bike lanes and pedestrian paths. Longhorn Dam rises to the right (west).  (Source: City of Austin)

Currently, motor vehicles have four lanes on the bridge. Cyclists and pedestrians lack complete paths and safe places to cross between parks and trails.

On May 20 the city held its first public workshop at Martin Middle School to talk about proposed plans.

For more information on the mobility project, contact Nathan Wilkes of the Public Works Department at 974-7016 or nathan.wilkes@austintexas.gov.

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About burlyheights

C. Forrest is a longtime resident of Burleson Heights.
This entry was posted in City projects, Cycling, Parks and recreation, Safety, Traffic, Transportation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bridge could get better paths for cyclists, pedestrians

  1. Mary Trentham says:

    Great post! I use that bridge weekly. Although I agree with making improvements, I can’t take seriously any plans to constrict the number of lanes that cross the river. I’m considering all the lanes that cross Lady Bird Lake. The bridge at 183 is a maze of merges. A pedestrian/ bike bridge like the one at Lamar would be best.

    • burlyheights says:

      It sounds like the city is looking for the most cost-effective solution for the situation they have today, or the situation they anticipate soon after the hike & bike boardwalk trail is completed. But with the economy on the rebound and the East Riverside Corridor Regulating Plan approved, I bet growth in Southeast Austin will bring new priorities to light. We might just get that bike & pedestrian bridge … some day.

      I’m a little impatient for a complete network of safe paths for walkers and bikers, but we’re already vastly ahead of where we were even five years ago. I have to give a shout out to city planners, Austin Bicycle Program and groups like the Austin Cycling Association and Bike Austin for all their efforts.

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