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Innovative Transportation Study Honored by Texas APA

AUSTIN, TX — The APA-Texas Chapter has chosen the Bergstrom Spur Corridor Study as a recipient of the 2021 Transportation Planning Achievement Award - Silver. Freese and Nichols works on pedestrian and bike infrastructure all over the state. The company is currently designing or implementing 7 percent of all Transportation Alternative grant funded projects by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in 2021 for Small and Medium sized Urban areas — in addition to larger projects like the Bergstrom Spur-West urban trail.

The Bergstrom Spur Corridor Study partnered the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) with the City of Austin Urban Trails Program.

The Bergstrom Spur is an abandoned rail corridor that stretches approximately six miles long and averages about 50 feet wide from Vinson Drive in southwest Austin to US 183 near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in southeast Austin. This rail line was a critical connection to the former site of the Bergstrom Air Force Base, but when the base was closed in 1993, it was repurposed as an airport, and the Bergstrom Spur railroad corridor was abandoned and is itself now being repurposed as a bicyclist, pedestrian, transit multimodal transportation corridor.

The Bergstrom Spur corridor remains a source of great potential for connectivity through south Austin. In its western segment, the corridor will have a controlled crossing at S. 1st Street and S. Congress Avenue and will connect to the South Congress Transit Center and various small business employment opportunities. In its central segment, the corridor will provide a placeholder for sharing with the transit service and will connect residents, businesses, and services with controlled street crossings and a grade-separated underpass at the I-35 Service Roads. The eastern segment separates transit onto the street network and continues the trail users along Bergstrom Spur, with connections to employment, retail, services, the new TxDOT headquarters, and onward to connections with the existing and proposed multimodal networks near the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The Bergstrom Spur rail-to-trail project was envisioned as part of the council-adopted Urban Trails Plan and is part of the CAMPO 2045 Regional Active Transportation Plan; thus, Bergstrom Spur has been part of an extensive public engagement process. Non-motorized transportation has been a central component of the transportation planning for the CAMPO area for neighborhood mobility to employment, services, and recreation. A portion of the Austin population is considered vulnerable. The Bergstrom Spur Corridor Study provides an urban trail facility for all ages and abilities and focuses on community-centered and context-sensitive recommendations.

An environmental site assessment was performed to identify any recognized environmental concerns that may constitute barriers to redevelopment along the corridor, require sensitive consideration, or pose hazards to human health or the environment during construction and then usage of the constructed trails.

Currently, development along the corridor disregards the abandoned railroad corridor and, in some instances, has erected walls that separate their development from the Bergstrom Spur. Gradually, development along the corridor will be able to adapt to the new urban trail and transit service provisions along the corridor. Still, special focus should be given to economic development for community development. Given that many of the adjacent neighborhoods include vulnerable populations, future development will provide a variety of job opportunities and amenities that are accessible to the entire community, especially those who are vulnerable.

Now that funds have been approved for the design and construction of the trails and amenities elements of the Bergstrom Spur, engagement with community leaders and stakeholders to advance the design concepts for trail appearance and amenities is ramping up. Community participation in forming the trail design and amenities will foster localized trail adoption for surveillance and care.

When construction is completed, the Bergstrom Spur project will enhance public health by enabling active transportation that contributes to healthy lifestyles. It also prioritizes safety and accommodates users from diverse backgrounds, ages, abilities, and locations.

The implemented trail improves connectivity and mobility by connecting existing housing, jobs, community services, and the existing transportation network. It facilitates community mobility as a premier east-west active transportation connection for all ages and abilities in Austin and incorporates opportunities for future transit services and transportation expansion.

The Bergstrom Spur Corridor Study addresses the need to promote environmental and social sustainability as well as catalyze economic development and upward mobility by growing local jobs, businesses, and community services.
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