Dam Good News

East Austin construction project underway to ease dangerous stretch of roadway

East Austin construction project to ease dangerous stretch of roadway

Longhorn Dam
Construction is scheduled to begin by the end of January and last about six months.  Photo courtesy of Austin Transportation

Construction is set to begin on the Longhorn Dam this month, promising improved safety for pedestrians and cyclists and helping usher in a new phase for the hike-and-bike trail.

Over the next six months, Austin Transportation Department will make a series of changes to the dam, which connects vehicle traffic along Pleasant Valley Road from Canterbury Street in East Austin to Elmont Drive in Southeast Austin. Currently, the bridge also connects the north and south side of the Butler Hike and Bike Trail over Lady Bird Lake.

According to a City of Austin release, this stretch of Pleasant Valley is considered a "high-injury roadway," and many of the improvements, including a physical barrier between lanes, are designed to help mitigate some of these problems.

The project's scope of work includes: 

  • reconfiguring street space over the bridge to a single northbound traffic lane and two southbound lanes between the south Krieg Field entrance and Canterbury Street
  • multiple new dedicated left turn lanes 
  • a new physical separation between north and southbound travel lanes throughout most of the project area to help minimize head-on collisions
  • 12-foot-wide shared use path will be built on the west side of South Pleasant Valley Road and an 8-foot-wide shared use path will be built on the east side
  • a new concrete trail connecting the northbound lane to Cesar Chavez Street
  • a new concrete trail connection to Kreig Field

This new improvement project is designed to provide "near-term" safety benefits to Austin residents while work on the anticipated "wishbone" portion of the Butler Hike and Trail gets underway. That exciting, $12.6 million project will connect the north side of the trail to the south side via a wishbone-shaped bicycle and pedestrian bridge. Once completed, the wishbone will actually cross the water, bypassing the Longhorn Dam entirely. 

The wishbone, one of five design options, was overwhelming selected during a summer 2019 survey, garnering 41 percent of the vote. Funding for that project passed in November 2020 as part of Proposition B.