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Aging bridge gets facelift

image The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue

AUSTIN - The aging infrastructure underneath the north side of the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge was a growing concern for The Trail Foundation, the nonprofit that preserves, enhances, and connects the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail for the benefit of all. It was imperative to find the right contractor to update the decades-old wooden bridge, add vital safety improvements, and create a scenic bat viewing area.


    Founded by Ron Albee in 1990 and having extensive experience in heavy civil construction work such as railroads, utilities, commercial building, highway/bridge/street and airport expansion and among other types of work certainly had its benefits for Jay-Reese Contractors Inc. They were the right fit for the Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue’s facelift.
    Jay-Reese Contractors moved on to the site March 5 of this year and completed the $1,750,000 construction portion of the $2.5 million project by May 25.
      The Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue updated the aging wooden bridge underneath the north side of the Ann Richards Congress Bridge that linked the east and west sides of the Butler Trail. This link took place around a blind and narrow passageway that posed a safety threat for runners or cyclists who rounded the corner at high speeds, and this often resulted in collisions.
    The new 172-ft. long, over-water pedestrian pathway that now links this part of the Trail has enhanced the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists by removing the blind curve on the existing structure, widening the pathway to 14 ft. to allow cyclists and runners to pass each other safely without the risk of collision, making the area ADA-accessible, connecting the Trail to the Waller Creek area, and will lower the city’s maintenance costs. Prior to the new bridge, this stretch of the Trail had remained the same for roughly 40 years.
    The outdated infrastructure was replaced with a new 14-ft. wide concrete and steel structure that extends over the water similar to the Boardwalk (Jay-Reese Contractors also built), which The Trail Foundation completed in 2014 in collaboration with the City of Austin.      
    This was no ordinary project for several reasons. First, it was built on and around an active pedestrian trail. Secondly, the bridge was built under the largest North American population of Mexican free-tailed bats, so there was a lot of care and preparation to keep the bats safe. Project Manager Derek Eckhoff, Superintendent Rodrigo Lamas Marquez, and engineering and architectural firm, Freese and Nichols Inc. worked with the Austin Bat Refuge to ensure the population was not disturbed. Lastly, the bridge was built with sole access being by water from barges.
    True partnership was used to describe the positive aspect of the working relationship with The Trail Foundation, City of Austin, project architect/engineer and the Austin Bat Refuge.
    “We had a true problem solving partnership with every entity involved. The project was able to accelerate due to the effective communication, teamwork, and quick resolution of obstacles to our progress,” says Darcy Albee, operations manager, Jay-Reese Contractors Inc.
    Jay-Reese Contractors Inc. is a full-service general contractor in Dripping Springs, TX. -cmw

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Author Info
Carol Wiatrek meditor@constructionnews.net