Annual Report 2020

05 February, 2021



Last year was our first full year as a staffed organization. We had big plans, and big adjustments. We nevertheless accomplished a good deal, though we had to shift some of our focus toward opportunities that arose and away from opportunities deferred. Our 2020 work is described below among our four programs.


Overall Parkway Planning: The Initiative compiled information on the corridor, including existing trails, parks, and related plans; GIS data; historical and cultural information; consideration for coordination with other plan updates & implementations (e.g. housing, forestry, Project Connect, land use planning); and more. This has helped inform our approach to developing the scope for the Parkway Plan process, and our approach to community engagement before and during the Parkway Plan process. 

Constrained Area Studies: The Initiative worked with the UT Austin Civil Engineering Project Service Class to develop engineering studies to connect trail gaps through two constrained areas: the MLK Jr. Station TOD and the intersection of the Red Line & Green Line. We based these studies on the known constraints and on sound engineering to create possible alignments and cost estimates.

Community Outreach: In addition to the community outreach described above and below, The Initiative met with various stakeholders to engage them in development of the Parkway Plan, including neighborhood resident stakeholders, East Austin community leaders, government agencies, property developers & owners, and others. This community outreach will ramp up significantly in 2021 when we begin our Parkway Plan public process.


Parkway Crossings at I-35: In order to ensure that the two Parkway crossings at I-35 will be safe and car-free, and that the Gold Line Hancock Station near the Red Line will be safely accessible to people on all sides of the Airport Blvd. & I-35 intersection, we met with stakeholders, compiled the expected and public constraints, and put together initial recommended plans for those crossings. We participated in and/or hosted over a dozen meetings with TxDOT staff, active transportation stakeholders, the Our Future 35 Scoping Working Group, Downtown Austin Alliance, Reconnect Austin, neighborhood resident leaders, and others. We put together a plan in ArcGIS showing roadway ramps, newly available real estate (including potential TOD real estate), car-free I-35 crossings for both the Parkway and MetroRail, and new park space, plus a parameters document describing roadway slopes and acreage of new real estate that would help offset implementation costs. The car-free crossings are not yet secured, so our work continues into 2021.

Right-of-Way for the Parkway: The Initiative met and coordinated with numerous stakeholders to help ensure adequate right-of-way (space for the trail and Parkway) on several properties, including developments in Leander, adjacent to Lakeline Station, Broadmoor area, Austin Energy Kramer Lane site, Kramer Station, Austin FC Q2 Stadium site, Metropolitan Drive site, Polaris Avenue site, East 5th Street site, East 4th Street sites, and others.

Transportation Criteria Manual: We provided extensive feedback on the draft City of Austin Transportation Criteria Manual (TCM), which specifies many of the design details for new and reconstructed trails, bikeways, sidewalks, and streets. This will play a critical role in how usable our trails are for people walking, bicycling, or going by wheelchair, how safe our bikeways along interim Parkway routes and connectors to the Parkway will be, and determining whether two people can ride bikes side by side and share a conversation or have to go single file.

Other Implementation Engagement: We also worked closely with staff at City of Austin, City of Leander, and Capital Metro on several segments that are underway, including Austin’s first dual-track trail between Rosewood Avenue and 12th Street, to be completed in February 2021! 


Austin Voter-Approved Funding: Perhaps the biggest news last year for urban trails was the passage of Austin’s Propositions A and B in November, providing the largest amount of transit and active transportation funding to-date, including more than $80MM for urban trails. The Initiative worked tirelessly in partnership with Austin Outside, Bike Austin, Walk Austin, and others to put Prop B - Safe Mobility for All on the ballot and to ensure its passage.


Marketing, Branding, and Activating the Parkway: The Initiative raised public awareness and government agency awareness of the Red Line Trail and Parkway to both help our work toward completing the Parkway and activating existing sections. We accomplished this through social media, earned mass media, one-on-one and small-group meetings, presentations at public & community meetings, and via other routes. We had intended to host in-person events, but we canceled these due to the pandemic.

We thank our donors, including Capital Metro, Sinclair Black, Lyft, and Downtown Austin Alliance, for supporting our 2020 work.

If you have any questions or feedback about our 2020 work, please feel free to contact Executive Director Tom Wald. If you would like to invest in our continued work, you can do so via our Donate page.