Crews this week opened a new stretch of the Shoal Creek Trail near Fifth Street in downtown Austin. Photo courtesy Austin Public Works Department

A section of the Shoal Creek hike-and-bike trail near downtown that has been closed for nearly three years reopened this week.

The $4.6-million Shoal Creek Gap Project closed a missing link in the route between the bank on the west side of Shoal Creek and the existing trail. The project included relocation of water and wastewater lines, bank stabilization, trail lighting and a shared use bridge spanning the creek at Fourth Street and Rio Grande Street.

Since the project began in July 2015, trail users had to detour onto surface streets to access the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. Ride the stretch now and you’ll notice the smooth new sidewalk, retaining walls, sod and ornamental railings.

This photo shows the trail before the work began. Photo courtesy Public Works Department

“Flood events and heavy rains really impacted us,” said project manager Darryl Haba with the Public Works Department. “We did, however, stay under budget.”

The project was finished within budget but was nine months behind schedule due to heavy rains and flooding, Haba said.

Trail lighting illuminates the new route at night. Photos courtesy Austin Public Works Deparrtment