Chugging ahead

Downtown Austin on track for public park like New York's iconic High Line

Austin on track for public park like New York's iconic High Line

Cypress and Shoal Creek railroad tressle
The project would transform this 100-year-old railroad trestle into a public park and scenic overlook. Photo courtesy of Cypress & Shoal Creek

Downtown Austin is on track for a buzzworthy new project near Lady Bird Lake that some are calling Austin's High Line. 

Backers of the projects, known as Cypress & Shoal Creek, are wrapping up the first phase of gathering input about what local residents envision for this planned public space. A key component of Cypress & Shoal Creek will be transformation of a nearly 100-year-old railroad trestle into a public park and scenic overlook.

The project is similar in design to New York City’s High Line, a city-owned park fashioned from a historic elevated freight line stretching nearly one-and-a-half miles. Now a treasured gem on Manhattan's west side, the High Line attracts an estimated eight million visitors a year.

Estimates tallied in 2017 for rehabilitation of the unused Third Street trestle ranged from $2.4 million to $3.4 million.

Other proposed elements of the Cypress & Shoal Creek project, designed to enhance the Shoal Creek Trail between West Avenue and Second Street, include:

  • Construction of a cyclist and pedestrian bridge spanning Shoal Creek at Third Street
  • Creation of a trail route under the Third Street cyclist and pedestrian bridge and trestle
  • Addition of a missing link of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway between Nueces Street and Seaholm Drive
  • Creation of a cyclist and pedestrian path under the active Union Pacific rail line to connect Third Street to the Butler Hike and Bike Trail

A second phase of public input about Cypress & Shoal Creek is scheduled for June. Conceptual designs and cost estimates are set to be produced in August.

“Making this rapidly transforming area of downtown easier and safer to navigate on foot and by bike is fundamental to ensuring everyone has access to these community resources and outdoor spaces,” Ivey Kaiser, executive director of the Shoal Creek Conservancy, says in a release. “When the Cypress & Shoal Creek vision is brought to life, it will greatly improve and re-energize this space that we all rely on for transportation, exercise, relaxation, and a connection to our city’s natural spaces.”

Cypress Street is the former name of Third Street.

In addition to the Shoal Creek Conservancy, the Downtown Austin Alliance and the City of Austin are spearheading the project, which will be a neighbor of the Austin Central Library and the Seaholm Power Plant mixed-use development. In recent years, this area has evolved into a thriving live-work-play hub.