Loophole allows for drinking, smoking on pedestrian bridge

AUSTIN (KXAN) — You expect to be safe at the park, but a jurisdiction loophole could create an unhealthy situation in Downtown Austin.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Park Citations

Alcohol at Park Citations
2012: 579
2013: 547
2014 to date: 120
Smoking Prohibited in Park Citations
2012: 84
2013: 160
2014 to date: 70

The Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge connects Auditorium Shores and Butler Park to downtown. If you take a step off the bridge you can’t smoke or drink,  but over the lake it’s perfectly legal.

“To have that element in such close proximity has always bothered me,” said Collin Young, who uses the bridge everyday. “People are always walking, jogging, and biking here.”

Austin police say as many as 100 people sometimes gather at the bridge for social meetups where drinking and smoking are the norm. Currently APD can not give citations for drinking alcohol or smoking on the bridge.

“The only way that APD can enforce items is by having an ordinance,” said Victor Ovalle with The Austin Parks and Recreation Department. “There currently doesn’t exist an ordinance for that little section.”

The Austin Parks Department also has to pick up the tab for the trash left behind.

“It just seems like it would cause some trouble,” said Courtney Blood-Malechi, visiting the bridge from Fort Worth.

The parks department is now trying to bridge that gap with a new ordinance to ban smoking and drinking on The Pfluger Bridge. It will go before The Austin City Council on May 1.

“It’s a little gross,” said Collin Young. “It’s not necessarily something you want to smell or see when you are walking or on a bike ride.”

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