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cxagent

Northern Walnut Creek Trail (aka big sidewalk thru Walnut Creek Park)

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Last week a group of us hiked the proposed route thru Walnut Creek Park from the current "end" of the big sidewalk to the east side of the park. There were several issues to bring to the group - 

1) - PARD is saying NO NEW TRAILS. After the current section of the sidewalk replaced several of the exiting trails, we were allowed to replace those trails. PARD is saying that will not be allowed this time. The new sidewalk is planned to replace a long section of the existing trail that in my opinion, is not a high priority to Mtbr's.  Most of that section is along Pool Lot Trail. (see attached map). I don't see that trail being a big loss to Mtbr's. Most riders on that trail are just getting to a 'real trail' to ride. I think we can share that part with the general public with out too much trouble.

2) - Charlie has proposed and flagged a parallel path to allow Mtbr's to bypass that section. PARD was adamant that that trail would never be allowed.

3) - The climb at 250 - 252 - 254 is likely to be closed. There were concerns about trails entering the sidewalk with blind entrances. Those trails are fall line trails that are eroding and exposing oak roots. My opinion is those trails should probably be closed but only if there are allowed to be replaced. If they are closed with no replacement - then keep them open. Sorry - an adamant edict gets an adamant response.

4)  - The biggest problem is where the new sidewalk will cross Walnut Creek east of the Main Creek Crossing (see lower right red circle on the attached map). That is a highly used and popular trail. The City was proposing to build "board walk ramps" to allow Mtb's to cross the sidewalk at (roughly) right angles. The theory was that the climb on to the sidewalk level (I'm guessing 5 to 6 feet) would slow the bikes down to prevent collisions. I said that riders would get as much speed as possible to gap jump the concrete. I see potential for major collisions if they build these ramps. I suggested allowing the existing trail to be moved so the revised trail could go under the bridge that will be built over Walnut Creek. This would be similar to what was done at the bottom of Powerline Flow Trail. The engineer and PARD people did walk over and look at that area. There was NO commitment that this would be allowed. There was little commitment that it would even be considered. I think the folks were we talking with were afraid to make commitments that may not happen because they are overruled by higher ups. These were worker bees - not management that sits at a desk and issues edicts. 

5) - There were a large number of trees with red survey tape around them. There was MUCH concern that the red survey tape meant the tree would be removed. We were told that the red marking meant the tree was surveyed - not that it would or would not be removed. Since some of these trees were HUGE old trees - several people walking the proposed sidewalk were relieved to hear these trees were not marked for removal.

6) - Overall - I think the big sidewalk is a good thing (I hate to call a concrete, ADA compliant structure a "trail". It is closer to a road than a trail.). This can be a place to ride when it is too wet to ride dirt. We can stay away from cars with drivers on their phones. Maybe, just maybe, we might be able to build new trail off the new sidewalk like at Brushy Creek. I support the big sidewalk even if it takes out some real trails at Walnut Creek. 

That said, these are my opinions ONLY. I am about to hand this off to others. They may have different ideas on how to handle it.

You can see what the City has posted on their web site at the link below.

http://www.austintexas.gov/page/walnut-creek-trail-system

WalnutCreekMetroPark_LargeKiosk_2019-09-07 NWCRT.pdf

Edited by cxagent
typos
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(4) Dang, that's already the site of most trail collisions at WC I think. Figuring out some way to route the big sidewalk over that section of trail would be much more preferable. Someone get the Walton's on the phone. Let's go for a Bentonville type solution.

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Thanks for the update, summary and personal feedback.  FWIW, I agree with all of your comments.

I do have to say that when the initial concrete path was proposed, flagged and then began construction...I was fairly miffed that "my" long-time neighborhood single track was being encroached upon so drastically.  But once it was completed, and we were also allowed to replace lost trail, it has proven to be a huge positive to the entire system.  I L-O-V-E(!) seeing so many people out being active on the concrete path.  I really don't care if it's walkers, families, joggers, or dogs it has brought people out into nature (sorta) and also lessened crime that used to be around that sketchy section under/around Metric.  Then add-in the fact that the new trail additions are some of the best trail out there and its been a 100% win for everyone IMHO.

All that being said, THIS is what I find most interesting in the link you provided:

Project Funding: 

  • $2.5M from the 2016 Mobility Bond
  • $1.5M from a TxDOT Grant
  • $1,016,000 from the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department

 

So it takes $5 million dollars to create 1.7 miles of trail?!?

Edited by CBaron
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Where is this trail supposed to go as you travel east out of the park? I live seeing longer routes that can be done away from traffic but cover a lot of distance.

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7 minutes ago, mack_turtle said:

Where is this trail supposed to go as you travel east out of the park? I live seeing longer routes that can be done away from traffic but cover a lot of distance.

If you click on the link in his post it will show you.  There will be a Northern WC Section 3 that gets built and goes all way around to connect to existing trail (near290 & Old Manor Rd).  But the Section 2 that were are discussing above has a completion schedule of 2023 (for 1.7 miles of trail).  I can only imagine how long Section 3 (with no current funding) will take to get done.

Later, -CJB

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I see it now. I just saw the PDF map at first. I wish that map was a little more specific. Looks like it will go right past my office.

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15 minutes ago, CBaron said:

So it takes $5 million dollars to create 1.7 miles of trail?!?

I was curious about this.  I think there will be at least one bridge (they're not doing cheap bridges and I have no idea how much they cost, but I'm guessing several hundred thousand dollars per bridge).  I think the path is 15ft wide.  I just looked up estimates for sidewalks 15ft wide and 1.7 miles long and it's anywhere from $1M to 1.2M (4" thick 3500psi concrete).  I would venture that the paths CoA/PARD has been building are quite a bit nicer than minimum.  I'm guessing 5-6" thick.  That doesn't necessarily include any grading or any other type of extra work that has to be done like reinforcing against grades or railings where appropriate.   To be sure, some of the money is for the design and studies, etc.

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Looking through some other info online, it looks like multi-use paths are a bit more elaborate than sidewalk.  First, for the cost above, I should have specified this was fiberglass reinforced.  It's unclear if this is fiberglass mixed in the concrete or if they use fiberglass instead of steel reinforcement.

This other info shows more detail into what they do for multi-use paths.  Looks like per this source, they do a sub-base also and with no curb it's $155 (2014 costs) per foot for 5ft wide path which is $465 per foot for 15ft wide path.  A 1.7 mile long 15ft wide path would be around $4.1M.

I learned something new:

https://www.ccrpcvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Sidewalk_Path_Cost_Report_2014_FINAL.pdf

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5 minutes ago, AntonioGG said:

Looking through some other info online, it looks like multi-use paths are a bit more elaborate than sidewalk.  First, for the cost above, I should have specified this was fiberglass reinforced.  It's unclear if this is fiberglass mixed in the concrete or if they use fiberglass instead of steel reinforcement.

This other info shows more detail into what they do for multi-use paths.  Looks like per this source, they do a sub-base also and with no curb it's $155 (2014 costs) per foot for 5ft wide path which is $465 per foot for 15ft wide path.  A 1.7 mile long 15ft wide path would be around $4.1M.

I learned something new:

https://www.ccrpcvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Sidewalk_Path_Cost_Report_2014_FINAL.pdf

Antonio, I always appreciate your thorough and detail oriented style.  Thanks for sending over the info.  It personally helps me process the cost, my opinions and how I feel about my tax dollars.

 

 

1 minute ago, AntonioGG said:

How will they cross Lamar?

I strongly suspect that they will go under Lamar down towards the creek just South and below Windy Loop?

-CJB

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Oh yeah!  Now it makes total sense.  I should have looked at the google maps in addition to the other 2 maps.  Next time I ride Windy I'll keep an eye out to see what that looks like.  So under 35 also along the creek is what it seems like.  

 

Would be cool if they'd let us get that trail going, keeping it rustic until they're ready.  Is that something they'd ever consider?

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Thankfully, most of that is trail that is mostly pedestrian/kids/dogs/etc. I never ride it, but I do hike it with my dogs.

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On one hand I like the idea of connecting the north and south trail. On the other hand I don't like losing 250-254 without getting something in return.

Oh, yeah, and the ramps will be ramps, someone is going to get hurt there.

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When I first went back to Walnut and saw the concrete path, I thought I was in the wrong place. It screwed me up for a while, it had to have been dangerous at first.

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3 hours ago, cxagent said:

3) - The climb at 250 - 252 - 254 is likely to be closed. There were concerns about trails entering the sidewalk with blind entrances. Those trails are fall line trails that are eroding and exposing oak roots. My opinion is those trails should probably be closed but only if there are allowed to be replaced. If they are closed with no replacement - then keep them open. Sorry - an adamant edict gets an adamant response.

That's a bummer.  I'm assuming that we can still ride down there and jump into the creek bed even if we lose the climb at the end?  It's a bit of a dodgy section because it's so close to the parking lot that it sees a lot of foot traffic yet the downhill lends itself to some speed on a bike.

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i think the proposal is pretty reasonable, won't affect my normal walnut route much. it would be nice if the trail crossing could go under a bridge and avoid crossing the concrete.

i personally enjoy riding the concrete on both road and mountain bikes, and very much look forward to the concrete connecting all the way to town lake. 

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6 hours ago, CBaron said:

So it takes $5 million dollars to create 1.7 miles of trail?!?

Did I forget to mention this was a government job????

Just off the top of my head -

I bet the design, permitting, oversight, etc. (everything except actually building sidewalk) will probably be about the same cost as actually building the sidewalk. But it might only be 80% instead of the full 100%.

The sidewalk is being built so trucks can drive on it. Including the bridges.

Just like the existing sidewalk, they have to build a temporary road big enough to bring in the sections of the bridges. Those are BIG bridge sections that require big trucks to haul them and big cranes to move them. Then they have to tear out the temporary 'road' they built and "restore" the area.

All of that cost money. Lots and lots of money. 

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5 hours ago, AntonioGG said:

Oh yeah!  Now it makes total sense.  I should have looked at the google maps in addition to the other 2 maps.  Next time I ride Windy I'll keep an eye out to see what that looks like.  So under 35 also along the creek is what it seems like.  

 

Would be cool if they'd let us get that trail going, keeping it rustic until they're ready.  Is that something they'd ever consider?

Last question - no. I would not even waste time trying that one. Just getting to reroute the existing trail so it goes under the bridge they will have to build will take a minor miracle.

Location where the new sidewalk will cross under Lamar is well south of Windy Loop. It will be closer to the Main Creek Crossing than it will be to Windy Loop. Check the map in the PDF file.

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7 hours ago, CBaron said:

it has proven to be a huge positive to the entire system.  I L-O-V-E(!) seeing so many people out being active on the concrete path.  I really don't care if it's walkers, families, joggers, or dogs it has brought people out into nature (sorta)

This!  I catch the multi-use path on Lincolnshire and ride over to the library on Amherst.  I love seeing all the people out and about using the trail, especially families.  Also great because there are quite a few apartment complexes that border that path on both sides of MoPac, so it's a great way to get out of an apartment and exercise. 

I do a social roadie ride every Tuesday morning on the Southern Walnut Creek Multi-Use Path and found that I wish it were wider by about three feet on either side.  Use is about 90% cyclists and it's just not quite wide enough to sometimes safely pass the pedestrians that venture on to it. 

A few weeks ago there was an extremely fast group of (maybe 10 or 12) guys (Mellow Johnnys? BSS?) riding in a pack that kinda scared the crap out of everybody.  They did manage to stay in their lane, but had they come around one of the bazillion blind corners on that path and discovered some walkers dead ahead with oncoming bike traffic, it would have been game over.  The riders that had been dropped from the pack were also going extremely fast trying to catch up, riding close to the center line. 

I was in Atlanta for a wedding in May 2018 in a great neighborhood (Poncey Highland), close enough to walk to the old original Sears building, which is now the mixed use Ponce City Market.  The railroad that went by Sears has been converted to a paved multi-use path and was about 6 feet wide on each side, with incredibly heavy foot and bike traffic.  Because it was so wide, it easily accommodated everyone.  

ATLANTA BELTLINE EASTSIDE TRAIL  Atlanta plans ultimately to have a beltline multi-use path the encircles the entire city.  I hope it comes to pass. 

Anyway, thanks, CX Agent for being on top of this with the City.  

 

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I moved away from ATL in 2013, just when they were starting on the Beltline in earnest. I went back to visit five years later and DAMN! That Ponce City Market and stuff along the Beltline blew up!

I don't expect WC trail infrastructure to do that. It's a totally different animal, but it's a powerful tool to remake a city wherever it goes.

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I spent a couple of weeks in the NW, Portland, OR; Victoria, BC; Vancouver, BC.  All those towns have arterial multi-use paths like our SWC trail and Shoal Creek Trail.  It was amazing to see bike rush hour in the mornings.  I'm talking about people riding in from 10 miles away.  Here I am in Spandex in a fancy bike struggling to keep up with a guy in street clothes in a hybrid with 35mm city tires and panniers.    I think things start getting used recreationally but eventually people start seeing the possibilities.  We really need more east-west cycle paths.

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Geez, I visited Montreal once. There was a "major heat wave" where the temperature approached 90 in July. I saw old ladies riding in wool skirts up a fking mountain in heels on 3-speed cruiser bikes. Texans are weak.

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You can find project costs for previous Ncwt sections online here https://www.austintexas.gov/financeonline/account_services/solicitation/closed_solicitations.cfm

Search construction, Walnut Creek trail, NCWT, etc.

Here is the most recent

https://www.austintexas.gov/financeonline/account_services/solicitation/solicitation_details.cfm?sid=118968

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8 hours ago, mack_turtle said:

Geez, I visited Montreal once. There was a "major heat wave" where the temperature approached 90 in July. I saw old ladies riding in wool skirts up a fking mountain in heels on 3-speed cruiser bikes. Texans are weak.

Yeah, I used to ride my Ross 10-speed to work every day in Chicago as a teenager, including all winter when temps at 6am were often -20F. Here people bitch that anything under 55 is too cold to ride. My Austin record is 28F for a ride to work.

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San Antonio is quite a bit ahead of Austin with respect to these concrete hike and bike trails. When they started planning the first one through our beloved Leon Creek trails we were pissed that they seemed to be following the established paths, in many cases, instead of flagging a new path, and that we were losing a bunch of trails or having them interrupted. In the end, the system of paths are a major win for bike and foot traffic. You can commute or just do a safe paved ride. A new, planned section will connect two long existing sections to create what is probably 40 miles of contiguous paved trail that cuts through the NW and NE sides of town.  https://www.sanantonio.gov/Portals/0/Files/Parks/GreenwayTrailMap.pdf?ver=2017-03-30-141506-633

My only concern is that the Austin paths are a little on the narrow side in many spots. Like Little Walnut trail. Little Walnut also has a ton of boring-ass nothingness it passes through, but that can't be helped I suppose, until we can plant some trees and shit. ha.

I love being able to ride paved path from Mopac/Duval area to Walnut. 

Five million bucks will seem like a bargain in 20 years. That'll be the annual property taxes on an average single family home by then!

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