Officials from the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation teamed together to celebrate the official start of construction on the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk.
The festivities brought together dozens of interested spectators, plus a Popsicle vendor, a mariachi band and water cannons courtesy of the Austin Fire Department. The boardwalk will close a 1.1-mile long gap in the trail circling Lady Bird Lake.
At the event, Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the project was about more than convenience for cyclists and joggers.
“It will create a continuous loop which will provide for the safety of all Austinites and trail users,” Leffingwell said. “And will provide a critical transportation route for pedestrians and cyclists along this beautiful section of Lady Bird Lake.”
Voters approved funding for the project in a 2010 bond election. Leffingwell said he thinks of the boardwalk as an investment in the city’s future.
“The Hike and Bike Trail is a major – perhaps the major – recreation area for all of Austin," he continued. "It’s a tourist attraction, a transportation corridor and a big part of what attracts people and businesses to our city.”
Howard Lazarus, the city's director of public works, channeled The Drifters in his appreciation of the project.
“When the sun beats down and burns the tar up on the roof and your boots get so hot you wish your tired feet were fireproof, down on the boardwalk is where you’ll be," he said. "Down on the boardwalk under the trees.”
Construction on the boardwalk is expected to last 18 months. Officials expect it to be open in early 2014.