The Red Line Parkway will serve mobility, recreation, economic, parks, arts, affordability, physical & mental health, and public space needs. Numerous opportunities along the parkway exist for enhancing existing parks and creating new ones, enhancing existing development and allowing redevelopment—“Trail Oriented Development”—and creating public space and public art. Trail Oriented Development has been a vision for Austin since the 1970’s creek trail visioning plan. Additional trail benefits are described in the City of Austin Urban Trails Master Plan.
What Trails Offer
Trails provide additional mobility options, including walking, bicycling, and access to transit, offsetting the demand to expand roadway capacity and automobile parking. The Red Line Parkway will provide additional commuter traffic capacity within Austin’s most congested area and through North Austin to the North Burnet Gateway area -- the major employment center near the confluence of U.S. 183, North MoPac, and Loop 360. It will provide significant shortcuts for bicycling and pedestrian connections to the MetroRail Red Line commuter rail, increasing use of existing transit resources.
Trails and public spaces are desirable places to live and work next to, they invite in tourist spending, and they enhance the value of real property and other nearby assets. The Atlanta Beltline, Minneapolis Midtown Greenway, and the New York City High Line serve as recent examples.
Trails create healthy and low-cost recreation and transportation options in proximity to where people already live and commute. Public health is improved via regular and commonplace physical and social activity opportunities, reducing health care costs. Trails improve air quality both by creating a zero-emissions route and by replacing automobile trips that are the leading cause of Austin’s poor outdoor air quality.
Public Space & Art
Trails create opportunities for social interaction in public space and for people to reimagine the city they live in. Trail corridors serve as a flexible canvas for creative design and installation of public art.
Improving accommodations for walking, bicycling, and transit in existing parts of the city are far-and-away more cost effective than increasing roadway capacity and parking for automobiles. The savings are reflected for individuals, government jurisdictions, and the private sector. Increasing access to multiple transportation modes in proximity to Downtown Austin and other high-opportunity areas increases the viability of living a more affordable car-free or car-light lifestyle, especially for those with strained household budgets.
Whom do trails serve?
Trails create an attractive, safe, and accessible place for people of all ages and abilities. The Red Line Parkway will provide a space to enjoy recreation activity, but it will also provide an additional commute route in the regional multimodal transportation system. Local people and visitors alike will experience its benefits. The opportunities for neighborhood stewardship on the parkway can enhance and expand Austin’s unique local culture. With minimum environmental impact, the parkway will also nurture regional ecology and create educational opportunities through conservation and habitat preservation, notably via the many existing water, parks, and open space resources along the corridor.
How much the trail will be used
Based on data from existing Austin bicycle traffic counters and similar urban trail examples in other cities, we estimate the Red Line Trail to serve 2000-5000 users each day at point locations in the first year of completion, and 5000-10000 users accessing at least one segment of the trail each day. The trail will see well over one million visits in its first year, rivaled locally only by the Butler Trail around Lady Bird Lake.
Who is in the area?
Over 150,000 residents and almost 200,000 jobs are currently within one mile of the 12-mile urban portion of the Red Line Parkway (Downtown to MoPac). There is also rapid residential, employment, and student population growth along the corridor. Five Austin Community College (ACC) campuses are within one mile of the parkway.