Ground was broken Thursday for the renovation of the historic Barton Springs Bathhouse, long in the planning and wrangling. Council members and officials from the city of Austin, its Parks and Recreation and Capital Delivery Services departments, and the Barton Springs Conservancy for the Barton Springs Bathhouse Rehabilitation joined attendees for the formal shoveling of the dirt for the project, part of the Barton Springs Pool Master approved in 2009.

Rehabilitation of the 1947 Art Moderne structure, which is a State Antiquities Landmark and listed to the National Register of Historic Places and houses lifeguard offices and an educational exhibit on the endangered Barton Springs salamander, will include "replacement of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and drainage systems; structural improvements to meet code requirements; improved pool entry and exit areas, public spaces, landscaping, and parking; construction of a fire truck access lane for safety as well as overall improvements to life safety and accessibility in compliance with Texas Accessibility Standards," according to a city press release.

The renovation will also include the "restoration of the building's historical rotunda as the main entry and a redesigned educational exhibit within the Beverly Sheffield Education Center will foster stewardship of Barton Springs and the Edwards Aquifer, educating visitors about the importance of protecting water and preserving the salamander habitat," the release reads. The current bathhouse's original 60 changing cubicles will be reduced to eight due to a significant drop in their use since 1947.

About $2.1 million of the funding for the project will come from money approved in a  2012 bond election, with an additional $257,871 coming from a  2018 bond election, the cost of the project has now grown to nearly . The Austin City Council approved additional funding for the project, the projected cost for which is now a projected $21.7 million, in November.

The project will also get about $12 million in historic preservation money from city Hotel Occupancy Tax, and the Barton Springs Conservancy has contributed about $3.4 million to the renovation. The Council approved a transfer of $465,000 in its 2023 general fund budget and set aside another $100,000 for the project in the 2024 budget. Austin Water will provide an $75,000, and the Watershed Protection Department will contribute about $291,000. Limbacher and Godfrey Architects lead the project's design team

The bathhouse will be closed until the project's completion in spring 2025. The pool entrance will move temporarily to a site near the north side of the structure, and nearby restroom and shower facilities will be provided during construction. The south pool entry at Azie Morton Road will remain unchanged.

During construction, one-way traffic on William Barton Drive near the bathhouse will be limited to emergency vehicles, construction deliveries, and vehicles needing accessible parking. Public parking will not be available except for accessible parking per Americans with Disabilities Act and Texas Accessibility Standards.