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The contract launches the second phase of the Waterloo Greenway parks project

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Photo by greenway of Waterloo

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 by Chad Swiatecki

The next phase of the Waterloo Greenway park system will begin construction this spring, with Jay-Reese Contractors Inc. winning the contract for the more than two-year project.

The Waller Creek Local Government Corp., the entity that handles much of the administration of the system, this week approved the contract for the section that will be known as Confluence. Located at the southernmost point of Waller Creek, the section is located close to downtown attractions such as Palm Park, the Rainey Street Historic District, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican Cultural Center, and the Alicante Convention Center. Austin.

The project, which is expected to cost between $75 and $80 million, will include reconstruction of the creek bed that was damaged by flooding, restoration of wildlife habitats, storm water treatment equipment, bridges and trails, and the planting of more than 1,500 trees and 200,000 mature plants.

John Rigdon, director of planning and design for Waterloo Greenway, said the bridges and pathways on the 13-acre site will improve connectivity between the downtown core business district and nearby Rainey Street and the University of Texas campus.

Additionally, Rigdon said increased pedestrian activity throughout the park system will attract new businesses to the area and hopefully turn the creek into a civic asset instead of the eyesore it is. has been treated for many years.

“Historically, Waller Creek was where buildings placed loading areas, utility access and other background functions,” he wrote via email. “Creating an active public realm along the creek provides an opportunity for new developments to reconsider the location of backhouse services and engage residents, visitors and patrons in the restored landscape. “

Conservation remains involved in the wider economic development process by working with neighboring developers to improve connections to the system and by referring to the Waller Creek District Design Guidelines which were established in 2015.

With work due to begin soon, the reserve is also scrambling to secure the final parts for its $13 million share of the cost.

So far, the city has provided $50 million, plus an additional $9 million from the US Army Corps of Engineers through the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Rigdon said the conservation is exploring potential state or federal funds as part of its fundraising efforts to cover the costs.

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Looking ahead, Rigdon said the conservation will continue the design process for the Palm Park portion of the system this spring beginning with more community engagement sessions. Planning work for this third phase will continue this year, with construction expected to begin in 2026.

City Council member Zo Qadri, whose district includes downtown Austin, said discussions about additional city funding for the system’s second phase should involve stakeholders from across the district, as well as other board members.

Qadri said the cultural and historical significance of areas such as Palm Park and Palm School that adjoin the greenway makes it important to “make sure everything is done right” as the project moves forward.

“Austin has one of the most vibrant and vibrant downtowns and it’s taken a ton of public and private investment to get us to where we are, with Waterloo Greenway representing some of the greatest collaborative achievements that can happen. produce. This final piece will transform an overlooked part of downtown into an exciting, inclusive and safe destination for Austinites of all backgrounds, and we want to make sure the many pieces of the puzzle fit together as neatly as possible.

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