Disputed pedestrian bridge opens in North Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After years of fighting the project for fear of more crime and traffic, a new bridge was officially opened in the Heritage Hills neighborhood in North Austin.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Project Costs

  • The North Acres Bridge and Sidewalk Project cost $1.32 million.
  • $750,000 was used for construction of the project.
    $570,000 was spent on design, inspection and project management.
  • The bridge itself cost $330,000.

The City of Austin officially opened the North Acres Bridge and Sidewalk Project on Wednesday. The city built the bridge to serve as a walkway for Hart Elementary students.

“Since we’ve seen what they’re plan was and what they’ve developed,” said Benjamin Graham who lives in Heritage Hills, “I think most people are pretty happy with it at this point.”

The new $1.3 million bridge, which connects Park Plaza Drive over Little Walnut Creek to Furness Drive, will serve as the main pathway for more than 400 elementary students.

Because of the new bridge Austin Independent School District will slash 10 buses from the route next August. One bus will remain for students who live more than two miles away. It’s all in an effort to get more kids to walk and also cut costs. The district said it will save about $130,000.

“We’re going to have walking school bus monitors so that we’ll group kids and lead them in,” said Chris Moore, program manager for the city’s Child Safety program. She said as of now they will have a total of nine staff members to work as crossing guards and walking school bus monitors next August.

Austin police officers will also be on hand to provide extra security for students as they cross the bridge.

Construction of the bridge started in July 2013 but the City of Austin said there has been a plan to build a bridge over the creek for 17 years. City Council Member Chris Riley pledged Wednesday morning at the ribbon cutting ceremony that the city will work with neighbors if and when there any concerns arise.

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