The city has signed off on a planned pedestrian and bicycle bridge that will connect northern and southern shores of Lady Bird Lake in East Austin, allowing the long-planned project to move forward after increasing costs forced its delay. The City Council sealed the $23M construction deal with Jay-Reese Contractors at its Thursday meeting, allocating a $20.7 million baseline amount and an additional $2 million in contingencies.

The project will create a new pedestrian and cyclist bridge across Lady Bird Lake, near the Longhorn Dam. The wishbone-shaped structure will connect to the Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Longhorn Shores, Holly Shores, and the peninsula currently connected to the latter by a smallish pedestrian bridge.

The new bridge will allow bicyclists and pedestrians complete separation from cars. Project plans include a shaded plaza area, lighting, benches, and other people-friendly features and a new trail underpass at Pleasant Valley Road. The total bridge length will be approximately 0.43 of a mile, and it will have an average width of 30 feet. The existing bridge that connects Holly Shores to the unnamed peninsula will be removed.

The planning and approval process for the bridge started in 2018, and its original budget was $15 million. Austin voters approved $20 million for the project in a 2020 bond election, but escalating costs and an expanded scope drove the budget higher. A $4.1 million federal grant obtained in 2023 helped fill the gap.

Construction on the project is expected to start this year, with completion in 2026.