Will You Walk the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk?
Early voting for the midterm elections has begun, and while you can look up the candidates on the Austin Post Election 2010 center, or peruse my post about the mobility bond package, there’s one project I haven’t tried to sell you on, and that’s the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk.
The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk is a sizable chunk of the mobility bond package in this election, $15 million out of $90 million total. It’s a plan to complete the loop of pedestrian and bike trails around Lady Bird Lake (aka Town Lake). It hasn’t been possible in the past because the segment on the south shore between the Austin-American Statesman and Lakeshore Park is either private land or prohibitively steep bluff. The solution proposed by the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk is to build the path on the lake itself.
It seems that most of the commentary about the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk is coming from the bike blogs (and Austin has a vast number of bike blogs). Any discussion about the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk begins with a hierarchy of concerns that typically goes: What about the environment? What about the money? And how is this transportation when it is obviously recreational?
But I haven’t heard anyone say the obvious: The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk will be really neat. If you can think of a better reason to have government other than making expensive neat things, like space stations, aircraft carriers, and the Hoover dam, I would love to hear it.
As it happens I was down in the area of the proposed Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk in the past week as I made a comically fruitless attempt to catch fish. It is indeed weird the way that a loop of trail, which is almost shoulder-to-shoulder joggers, would suddenly stop behind the Austin-American Statesman building.
The other weird part is the steep social and class division between the sections of trail that the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk seeks to connect. On the one side there are many joggers, all talking loudly about the difficulties they’re having completing the Johnson Account. And then a little further east is a neighborhood of buildings stripped down to the foundation and a park that seems like a good place to shiv someone.
But who knows, maybe the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk will connect more than a trail, and actually connect two parts of Austin that rarely see each other.