AUSTIN (KXAN) — As crowds descend on Austin for spring 2023 events, the city of Austin says it will improve the lighting and safety near the popular Rainey Street area.
According to city memo filed on Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) says crews will install temporary solar lighting in four locations along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
According to the memo, PARD needs to work with contractors and other city departments to establish a digging plan, pour concrete foundations and install poles and lighting.
The memo says the lights should be installed by Friday, March 10 between the Rainey Street trailhead and the trail-side boat launch adjacent to I-35 on East Avenue.
PARD says a thick tree canopy does limit the amount of solar lighting it can use, so the department plans to install a barrier between the trail and the shoreline of Lady Bird Lake. That barrier should be installed by Friday.
According to the memo, PARD will also install directional and informational safety signage in key locations in and around the Rainey Street trailhead and along the trail. Signage will be installed on or before Friday.
PARD says it is working with a non-profit for more permanent changes to come for the Rainey Street area.
According to the memo, the Trail Conservancy (TTC) plans to launch a Rainey Street Trailhead Project at the corner of Rainey Steet and Cummings Street. Improvements includes signs, a kiosk and better lights.
According to TTC, construction on that project should begin in the fall of 2023.
The memo comes a week after more than a dozen friends and family members whose loved ones were found dead in or near Lady Bird Lake — including 30-year-old Jason John — gathered at a special-called meeting of the Austin City Council Public Safety Committee on Feb. 28.
Since John’s body was pulled from the lake on Feb. 13, his friends and family have called for more lighting and surveillance on the trail near Rainey street.
While John’s death prompted this discussion, family and friends of people who died over the last six years spoke out at the meeting.
They included Mitchell Gutierrez, whose 25-year-old brother Martin drowned in 2018; Emmalee Crow, who said younger brother Joshua left Rainey Street on his bike in July of 2022 and was found dead near the I-35 pedestrian bridge; and Christopher Pugh, whose 21-year-old son Christian was went missing for three days before crews found him near the lake with serious injuries. Christian is still alive.