Lady Bird Lake boardwalk construction on track
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Austinite Jerome Schmidt has walked the Lady Bird Lake hike-and-bike trail every day for twenty years.
He can typically be found on the busiest part of the trail, on the south shore between the MoPac Expressway and the trail's end at Congress Avenue.
When it's completed, the new boardwalk will close the trail's loop around the lake, and will carry runners, walkers and cyclists across Interstate 35.
“I'm interested to see what's going to happen, and I'll probably walk over there occasionally," Schmidt said.
Since the trail opened in the 1970s, hikers and bikers have been forced to travel busy Riverside Drive to access the east end of the trail.
"Anybody who uses the trail knows that is difficult and unsafe at times, especially crossing IH-35," David Taylor, Austin Public Works Project Manager, said.
Construction crews on Monday will begin drilling holes in the bottom of the lake for more than 300 piers that will support the boardwalk. They will work east to west, building the boardwalk about 50 feet out from the south shore.
While construction is tucked away from most foot traffic, Taylor warns curious boaters to be careful.
"We can't really put a safety fence up in the middle of the lake, but you should keep your distance from the equipment," he said.
Despite a bit of skepticism, Schmidt looks forward to the completed boardwalk, and the protected running access it will give him—especially if he wants to stray a few steps from his routine.
Voters approved building the boardwalk in 2010 using bond money. Private donations will make up a $6 million dollar funding gap from original estimates.
It's slated to open in early 2014.