On Thursday, September 29, 2011 the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority unveiled the first phase of multi-use trail along toll road 183A. The ceremony included remarks from Mike Heiligentstein, the Executive Director of CTRMA; Ray Wilkerson, Chairman of CTRMA; Cedar Park Mayor Bob Lemon; Austin City Council Member Chris Riley; and BikeTexas Executive Director Robin Stallings. Each person spoke glowingly of the need for a transportation system that includes walking and biking, and how essential off-street trails such as this one are to the safety of non-car users such as children and the elderly. Cedar Park Mayor Lemon was particularly excited about how well the trail will eventually connect to such attractions as the Cedar Park Events Center and local schools, noting that this key transportation link will greatly increase quality of life in his town.
CTRMA Executive Director Mike Heiligenstein thanked BikeTexas for all its engagement over the years. Heiligenstein and Stallings first talked about including the multi-use path along the 183a tollway a decade ago. Heiligenstein announced today that CTRMA is planning to build shared-use trails along other future toll corridors in central Texas, naming specifically plans for US 290a and US 183 from US 290 to the Austin Airport.
The proposed shared-use trail along Mopac, being constructed as part of the Mopac Improvement Project, was mentioned as part of a system of trails that will eventually connect the whole region. On that note, Chris Riley spoke of the work the city is doing with the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to develop the first regional bicycle map. Other trail networks in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio were mentioned as examples of other Texas cities that are building extensive off-street transportation networks for walking and biking.
HNTB overcame many barriers to build this AASHTO-compliant shared-use trail that parallels the toll road and crosses several major arterial roads as well as an active commuter rail line. HNTB, which is also working on the Mopac Improvement Project, intends to present their challenges and victories from building the 183A trail at the Texas Trails and Active Transportation Conference in February 2012, which BikeTexas is co-hosting with the Texas Trails Network.
The current section of trail is 2.2 miles long. Phase II, to be completed in 2012, will make the trail 10.3 miles long, and includes a bridge to connect the trail to the existing Brushy Creek Regional Trail Network as well as a connection to the Leander MetroRail station.
See photos of the event on the BikeTexas Facebook page here.