State of Current Trail Projects

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“The Trail is where we all connect locally,” says Susan Rankin, Executive Director of The Trail Foundation.  Literally and figuratively, her words are true for sure. As the proverbial city limits of Austin continue to expand, so too, does our need for improved trail systems both in and around the city. 

We know there are several trail projects in the works at any given time, but want to update you on three major projects that not only impact the city, but also surrounding areas for families, commuters and fitness enthusiasts alike. 

Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue

Most recently, The Trail Foundation announced its latest project to continue their enhancements of the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake—the Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue project—a major upgrade of the trail under the north end of the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.

If you're familiar with the trail, then you know that area on the north side of the trail near Congress Avenue currently offers little visibility of what may be coming at you from the opposite direction. As trail traffic increases, so does the need for these types of safety and visibility improvements. As of now, the bridge is six feet wide. In their recent “State of the Trail” address, The Trail Foundation indicated that the new bridge will increase the width of the trail to 14 feet, enhance pedestrian and bicyclist safety, make the area ADA-accessible, greatly improve the visual appeal, provide connectivity with the Waller Creek area, create a beautiful site from which to view the Congress Avenue bats, and lower the city’s maintenance costs.

Currently, this project is in the design and engineering phases, and Rankin expects construction to start by Fall of 2016 and finish within a year. The good news? There will be very little disruption to the daily pedestrian activity in that area, and any trail closures would take place at night when there is little to no foot traffic. The current route will remain open until the new overwater route is completed after which the old section will be removed.

Endorsed by ADAPT (the local ADA organization), the Downtown Austin Alliance and BikeAustin, The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue will not only increase the safety of the Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake, but also enhance the aesthetic and beauty of our city's crown jewel.

In addition to the Congress Avenue Bridge project, The Trail Foundation continues to lead many ongoing restoration projects including Lakeshore Park on the new Boardwalk's eastern end and the Butler Trail Ecological Restoration. “My goal is to make our trail better for the thousands of residents who use it daily,” stressed Rankin. “Research has shown that humans have increased health effects from exercising in a healthy environment, and that's what we work to create at The Trail Foundation.”

Interested in giving back?

Contact The Trail Foundation and learn about the many ways to give back ( via donations, sponsorships, memorial gifts and more.

Take advantage of the generous matching pledge drive led by a commitment of $1.25 million by Mr. Robert F. Smith, the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Vista Equity Partners.  Every dollar raised up to $1.25 million will be matched by a donation of his own.

The Trail Foundation and Luke’s Locker have compiled a fitness plan for beginners, as well as a few key things to know before you start—as starting out can be intimidating for beginners (just as it can be in a gym). 

While some people may not realize it, the Trail offers more than just walking, running or biking—there are a variety of exercises you can do to target different parts of your body in order to reach your fitness goals:

Here are some suggested exercises:

Arms/Chest/Back (biceps, triceps and pectorals): The Butler Trail has some stretching/exercise bars located near Vic Mathias Shores (formerly Auditorium Shores), and it recently installed some similar equipment on the east side of the Trail, near the Boardwalk Trail (see map).

Full-on pull-ups can be challenging, so start small.
·      Start out by doing 10 “beginner” pushups—pushing yourself up while leaning against the push-up bars, at an angle.
·      Slowly progress to doing 10 “intermediate” pushups, while on your knees.
·      Progress to doing 10 full pushups.

Cardio: If you’re aiming to become a runner, start slow.
·      Begin with a 5-minute walk, as a warm up.
·      Then begin jogging for 30 seconds and walking for 1 minute, then repeat. Do this for one week.
·      The following week, jog for 1 minute and walk for 1 minute, then repeat.
·      The following week, jog for 1.5 minutes and walk for 1.5 minutes, then repeat.
·      You should be able to jog a full mile in about a month.
·      After that, increase your distance by a half-mile each week.

Legs (glutes/quadriceps):
·      The exercise areas also feature step-up blocks, so start out by doing 10 step-ups (10 on each leg), then progressing each week to additional reps; to make it more difficult as your fitness progresses, you can also do box jumps (same amount of reps).
·      You can also do these exercises on the stairs located at the north end of the Pfluger Bridge (see map).
·      The stairs can also be used to do “bleacher runs.” Start by running up and down them once per day to avoid making your muscles excessively sore.

A few other things to remember:
·      There are mile markers every quarter of a mile throughout the entire 10-mile Butler Trail loop.
·      There are also restrooms available every mile or so.
·      The Trail offers a zen-like atmosphere to reduce stress and contribute to overall wellbeing (and it lends itself to an ideal environment for meditation).
·      The Trail also offers unprecedented views of Austin and its most valuable green space! (Why workout on a treadmill that is overlooking Lady Bird Lake when you can see it in “real life” while working out on the Trail!)
·      You can download this interactive map by visiting The Trail Foundation’s website.

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