Relief could be coming to walkers and bikers traversing the cramped sidewalks of the Pleasant Valley bridge – but a new pedestrian bridge to replace the Longhorn Dam crossing is still years away.
Five proposed bridge alternatives for the first Lady Bird Lake crossing east of I-35 were presented at an open house earlier this month. Residents were asked for input on where a bridge should be built and what it should look like.
The two most popular proposals would build a new bridge upstream from the current crossing, one connecting to the current trailhead entrance and the other connecting to the nearby peninsula.
Kicking off the initiative last year, transportation planner Nathan Wilkes, who's in charge of the project, called the chance to build a new bridge a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
At a meeting of Austin’s bicycle advisory council Tuesday, Wilkes said smaller improvements to the area could provide needed support while the process of designing and building a bridge works itself out.
The most popular improvements at the open house called for widening sidewalks on the bridge and improve North and South connections to the bridge.
“We’re thinking of the interim improvements as a package of improvements that would go together," Wilkes said. "Right now, the crossings of the river are very, very narrow.
One suggested interim change would be to reallocate space on the current bridge by narrowing traffic barriers and road widths so sidewalks could be widened.
“Hopefully on both sides, but particularly on the west side,” Wilkes said. “Improving the trail connections down to the lower level, improving the crossings across Pleasant Valley through pedestrian-hybrid beacons. All that goes together.”
The interim improvements and build aternative proposals can be viewed online and are open for public comment until July 10.