AUSTIN (KXAN) - Once dubbed the "City of the Violet Crown," Austin's natural beauty will soon stretch 30 miles south into Hays County by way of a new hike and bike trail.
Crews should break ground on the Violet Crown Trail's second phase early next year, as backers are working to secure more funding in the City of Austin's current bond proposal. The main group behind the project – the Hill Country Conservancy – would like to see $3 million, though two plans on the table now recommend either $1 million or $3 million.
The lesser amount seems likely, as it more closely fits into the total bond range between $385 million and $400 million council members seemed to favor during their work session on Tuesday. Beyond departments' regular funding requests, the trail is part of a list of additional items up for consideration, including the Austin Film Studios expansion, the Mexic-Arte Museum and the 51st Street Vision Plan.
The entire trail project will link users to neighborhoods, retail centers and parks. Mostly complete, the first part of the trail now stretches from Barton Springs Pool down to Sunset Valley. It overlaps existing trails in the Barton Creek Greenbelt.
Early next year, crews hope to break ground on the next section from Sunset Valley to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This will take around a year and a half to finish.
After that, the final section runs from the Wildflower Center 17 miles just north of Onion Creek. The City of Austin already owns or has rights to use these lands - many of them once historical ranches.
With a name stemming from an 1890 Austin Daily Statesman Article and an 1894 O. Henry quote about Austin, Violet Crown is the fruit of cooperation between more than 20 organizations, including Texas Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Texas Department of Transportation, and the Cities of Austin and Sunset Valley.
Private donors and federal grants have already provides significant funding. The City Council must finalize its bond plan by August 20, and voters will have the final say during November's election.
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