Nonprofit working on trail connecting Leander to downtown Austin needs $1M

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — The nonprofit Red Line Parkway Initiative is working to connect Central Texas through a trail more than 32 miles long stretching from downtown Austin to Leander.

The trail would travel alongside Capital Metro’s MetroRail Red Line and provide a space for people to connect to transit stations or simply a space to travel on foot or bike.

Those at the nonprofit are getting the trail done piece by piece. There are a couple of spots along the proposed trail that are already complete.

“It’s a pretty iconic project and it’ll be a major part of our city. We just have to get all the steps to get there,” Tom Wald, the nonprofit’s executive director said.

Wald says right now they are in the process of raising $1 million in both private and public donations. The money will be used to conduct a study that Wald says will determine, “a trail alignment which will require a good deal of technical expertise, but it will also open up that space to build a trail. And then finding the space to build trails is one of the most challenging things in a city that’s already built out.”

Another chunk of the funds will focus on getting the community involved. Wald says this step will, “help people envision what they want to see out of the corridor whether that be playgrounds, water fountains, or more parkland and open space.”

Red Line Parkway (Source: City of Austin)

At present, the trail is about 10%-15% complete. Once finished, the trail will run along CapMetro’s Red Line from downtown Austin to Boggy Creek in east Austin, to Highland, to Crestview, and to the intersection of the North MoPac Trail and the Northern Walnut Creek Trail in north Austin all the way up to Cedar Park and into Leander.

“It’s important to have those connections between communities,” Tom Schwerdt, a Cedar Park neighbor said. “We want that regional connection.”

(Source: Austin Public Works Engineering Services Division)

Schwerdt believes the Red Line Parkway is one example of a mobility option.

“If you only use this for recreation I see that as an OK place to stop, but I see this as actual transportation,” he said. “You have to have transportation options.”

Wald agrees adding that it is important to help connect “people to opportunity and more transit without having to own a car.”

Thursday, Nov. 18, the nonprofit will host Project Parkway Happy Hour at Bond Collective in Austin starting at 5 p.m. Tickets are $32.

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