Feb 22, 2023 - News

Austin aims to make Zilker more walkable

A map of construction plans for Zilker Park

A map of planned improvements around Zilker Park, courtesy of the City of Austin

An intimidating, nearly mile-long stretch of Barton Springs Road and Stratford Drive will soon transform into a comfortably walkable bit of the city.

Why it matters: Think of Zilker Park, in its soul-cleaning way, as Austin's kidney — but some of its lining has been in bad shape and needs surgical repair.

Details: The project, which broke ground recently and is paid for by sales tax revenue and bond money, will improve access to the park, Zilker Botanical Garden and the Austin Nature and Science Center. The project includes:

  • Shared cyclist-and-pedestrian paths along Barton Springs Road and Stratford Drive
  • A landscaped buffer between that path and car lanes along Barton Springs Road
  • A pedestrian hybrid beacon and crosswalk across Barton Springs Road near the Zilker Botanical Garden entrance

Of note: City officials would not provide a cost estimate for the entire project, since designs remain fluid, but said the first phase, which includes the crosswalk, will come to $650,000.

What they're saying: "Improving this stretch of Barton Springs Road will make a huge difference in unlocking access to Zilker Park for families, people with disabilities, and transit riders in South Austin and beyond," said Council Member Paige Ellis in a statement.

A rendering of the planned path.
Rendering courtesy city of Austin

The big picture: There's currently a wrestling match going on about the long-term future of the entire park, with the city releasing a vision plan last year to considerable pushback.

What's next: The roadside improvement project is slated to be completed next year.


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