Austin recommends Barton Springs Bridge replacement post-analysis

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council will consider Nov. 30 approval of an item to replace Barton Springs Road Bridge, following a preliminary engineering report that found “significant degradation” in the bridge’s deck and structure.

Officials said in a memo Tuesday a full bridge replacement would be the most cost effective option, compared to rehabilitative work. Engineering teams suggested the bridge’s replacement should incorporate a three-span structure with “Y-shaped” piers, the memo added.

Currently, approximately 20,000 vehicles travel across Barton Springs Road Bridge each day, per city documents. Preliminary city estimates anticipate construction and soft costs for the project will amount to roughly $37 million.

Under the three-span structure replacement, the reconstructed bridge will widen the deck and include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, city documents added.

barton springs bridge
Under the three-span structure replacement, the reconstructed bridge will widen the deck and include bicycle and pedestrian facilities, city documents said. (Courtesy: City of Austin Capital Delivery Services)

“This option addresses all the key criteria, is the most cost effective, has the least construction risk of the options studied, provides the most visual openness underneath the bridge, allowing pedestrians and paddlers under the bridge a more open view and additional space for both the Zilker Eagle and the Ann and Roy Butler hike and bike trail,” the memo read in part.

The existing Barton Springs Road Bridge was first built in 1925 before it was later expanded on one side in 1946, the memo said. Due to degradation in the reinforcing steel within the bridge’s deck and structure, the Austin Transportation and Public Works Department added signs to the bridge mandating large-load vehicles only use the right lane.

Austin City Council previously greenlit design funding as part of the city’s 2020 mobility bonds program. Construction funding hasn’t yet been identified or allocated for the project, officials added in the memo.

This latest move follows several community engagement efforts back in the spring, where residents could review design options and deliver feedback to the city.

Following the preliminary phase ending this fall, city officials expect the design phase and permitting components to run from 2024 to 2026. Come 2026, city documents noted construction is slated to begin, with an estimated completion date sometime in 2029.

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