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Will trail’s temporary barricades ever go away?

Pam LeBlanc
pleblanc@statesman.com

Editor’s note: This article was originally published July 12, 2014

Two years after a motorist jumped the curb on Cesar Chavez Street, killing a man and injuring a woman on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail, a temporary barricade still separates the road from the trail.

The orange-and-white plastic barricades near the Lamar Boulevard bridge were put in place in May 2012, shortly after the incident. A permanent fix hasn’t been high on the priority list because a temporary barrier is already in place, said Howard S. Lazarus, director of the Public Works Department for the City of Austin.

“This is not the end solution and we need to do more,” Lazarus said Friday.

Lazarus said he asked engineers this week to come up with a conceptual design - “either a raised curb or a wall similar to what is on the north side of the road” - and a cost estimate for a permanent barricade. “We are looking at something simple yet elegant. We’ll then have to determine how best to fund the work.”

The barriers occupy city parkland and enhancements could be funded by a public-private partnership, he said. No timeline has been set for the project, but Lazarus said he would like to get a concept plan and estimated cost this summer. He also wants to meet with stakeholders in the project.

“Any time we do work on an iconic part of the city we want to make sure we entertain as many perspectives as we can,” he says.

City crews were at the site this week, checking on barriers and topping off those which no longer had water in them.

Susan Rankin, executive director of The Trail Foundation, says a functioning barricade is needed because it’s a safety issue for trail users.