Waterloo Greenway Conservancy and the City of Austin broke ground Wednesday morning on the Confluence, the second phase of Waterloo Greenway’s plan to revitalize Waller Creek and create a 1.5-mile linear park stretching south from Waterloo Park to Lady Bird Lake.

The Confluence, the area of the greenway where Waller Creek meets Lady Bird Lake, will bring together several significant adjacent city areas, including the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, Rainey Street District, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, the Austin Convention Center and Palm Park. The $91.5-million project aims to improve the accessibility and ecological health of the most environmentally diverse section of Waller Creek. Additional public green space and bicycle and pedestrian connections among downtown, the Rainey Street District, and East Austin are also part of the plan. The Confluence will also reconstruct sections of fallen creek banks that have been eroded through decades of flooding.

Other key features of the 13-acre Confluence, according to the Greenway website, include: 

  • Three lightweight pedestrian suspension bridges, creating stunning canopy walkways and new east-west connection points; 
  • Universally accessible pedestrian and bike trails connecting 4th St. to Lady Bird Lake, as well as an 800-foot boardwalk under Cesar Chavez St.; 
  • Public greenspaces including Lagoon Overlook, Explorer Garden and Lakeview Terrace that can be utilized for community events and gatherings; and
  • Lush landscaping of more than 1,550 new trees and 200,000 mature plants that will aid in improving downtown air quality and ecological function and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The project is the product of a partnership between nonprofit Waterloo Greenway Conservancy and the city's Watershed Protection and Parks and Recreation departments.

The project also received $9 million in federal funding, "the first environmental infrastructure project to ever be approved in the State of Texas,” said U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) at the groundbreaking.

To date, the partnership has received funding through philanthropic support from Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, the first U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project under the environmental infrastructure law in the State of Texas, and direct funding from multiple City of Austin departments, including Watershed Protection, Parks and Recreation, Development Services, Austin Energy, the Convention Center, and Austin Water. To complete The Confluence phase of the project, Waterloo Greenway Conservancy needs to raise an additional $10 million in private philanthropic support.

Designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and built by Jay-Reese Contractors, The Confluence is expected to be completed at the end of 2025.