New Barton Creek bike and pedestrian bridge at Mopac opens

The bridge will help connect southwest Austin into downtown (Dugan/KXAN)
The bridge will help connect southwest Austin into downtown (Dugan/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Checking out a new and exciting perspective of the Barton Creek Greenbelt should be added to your Austin bucket list. The Schlemmer family have already crossed it off their list.

They had a few ways to describe the spectacular views.

“I was thinking that my stomach got some butterflies in it,” says Sedona Schlemmer of the new bike and pedestrian path that stretches right over Barton Creek. The bridge was built to help cyclists coming from southwest Austin get right into downtown.

Construction on the bridge began in 2013 and took nearly four years to complete. The bridge opening was pushed back about six months due to foundation problems which forced a re-design of the base of the bridge. Wiring had to be re-designed as well in response to differing field conditions.

The bridge, which cost nearly $9 million, stretches along the east side of Mopac. You’ll be able to take in views of the greenbelt at observation decks roughly every 100-150 feet.

“I enjoyed walking down the bridge and having a hike in the forest. I enjoy it a lot because I’m outside and I like the outdoors a lot,” says Sedona.

Observation decks help get the perfect shot of the landscape (Dugan/KXAN)
Observation decks help get the perfect shot of the landscape (Dugan/KXAN)

John Schlemmer says almost everyone can relate to the headaches of Austin traffic and hopes this will encourage Austinites to consider riding two-wheels more often. “Anything would help with that is welcome in this city. One of the things if you build it, they’ll come,” says Schlemmer.” I think Barton Creek is part of the soul of Austin along with Barton Springs. It’s just great to come out here and look over the canyon and look down over the river and this bridge and kind of get back to nature.

The Barton Creek Bridge is a part of a system of bridges being built around Mopac. The project also includes a bicycle/pedestrian bridge over Loop 360 at MoPac and a multi-use trail on the west side of MoPac from Loop 360 to Tamarron Boulevard.

The project also includes restriping to add a third mainlane over the southbound MoPac Bridge in order to maintain the continuity of three mainlanes from Loop 360 exit to just south of the Barton Creek Bridge. This would reduce the shoulders on the bridge, so the pedestrian/bike bridge was built in conjunction to maintain pedestrian/bike connectivity.

Sedona says there’s one thing everyone can agree with. “It looks really pretty.”

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