Heavy rains flood popular trails, city talks solutions

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Heavy rainfall this week continues to impact commutes and outdoor plans. But now folks are seeing the impact on popular trails. One of the biggest problem areas is on the Hike and Bike Trail by the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue.

“We need the rain, can’t complain about it, but this is one of the drawbacks,” said Joe Weeden, who has been running the trail for 25 years. “Lots of cones out, dips, standing water. But those of us who’ve been out for years have seen that.”

The city put cones and caution tape along the trail to warn runners and cyclists of the worst flooding.

“People are skipping and jumping not to step in a puddle, and that’s just pretty frustrating,” said Michael Breen, who has lived in Austin for 20 years. “It looks like a rundown trail, not a new trail.”

He says he is disappointing because there has been a lot of improvements in the area, but preventing flooding on the trail has not been one of them.

Terry Jungman, the project coordinator with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said this particular area has been problem for a while. He added the department plans to look at long-term solutions.

“I think what we will do is come back and look to address this section more holistically as opposed to patching it with maintenance,” said Jungman. “To be able to try and move this water past the trail, either under the trail or direct that storm water flow through certain sections of trail that prevents this sort of massive runoff or puddling along the trail.”

But Jungman said some flooding on the trail is expected because of the gravel, but it is the gravel that provides aesthetic value.

“If it were a slab of concrete we wouldn’t have to worry about it,” Weeden said, “but the fact that it’s living, breathing trail is what we all like about it, and so you’re going to expect some of that.”

Others like Breen are not as forgiving.

“It’s just disappointing when you see public works that aren’t done correctly.”

After the rain ends, city officials said they will patch up the trail for now. Jungman says they do not expect any permanent damage.

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