AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin’s Public Works Department is getting ready to enter the design phase of the Redbud Trail Bridge Project. Thursday, the city will host its third open house to present an updated design of what the bridge could look like.
The aging Redbud Trail Bridge, officially named Emmett Shelton Bridge after the founder of West Lake Hills, sits at the north end of Lady Bird Lake connecting two communities: West Lake Hills and Austin. It was built in 1948 and designed to last 50 years, but as of today, it’s been in use for 72 years.
“The new bridge not only responds to that need but as well would respond to the new bridge requirements, we have wider shoulders, we have better guardrail as well as the pedestrian amenities on the bridge,” Pirouz Moin, the department’s assistant director of operations said.
City officials said the lifespan is not the only issue the bridge faces — flooding and a spike in traffic over the years have put a strain on the bridge.
They’ve been working on plans to improve mobility and safety in the area. Public Works officials are looking to build a taller, wider two-lane bridge and add a shared-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians to get across safely.
The new bridge could be anywhere from 12 to 15 feet taller than the current bridge and bring the elevation out of the 100-year-floodplain.
Moin said they want community feedback on the new design they will present Thursday evening at the third open house. It will take place at the O. Henry Middle School Cafeteria in west Austin starting at 5:30 p.m.
Funding the Replacement
In 2018, voters approved $50 million dollars in additional funding for the bridge replacement through Proposition G.
In 2012, voters approved the transportation and mobility Proposition 12 for a total of $143,299 million, of that $3.3 million was set aside to fund the design of the Emmett Shelton Bridge project.
Austin Public Works officials said the complete roadway and bridge design is expected to cost around $5 to $6 million. The preliminary construction cost estimate is approximately $50 million.
Officials don’t expect construction to begin until sometime in 2024 and construction could last two and a half years.