City of Austin

Shoal Creek Urban Trail

Photo courtesy of Coleman & Associates


This section of the Shoal Creek Urban Trail extends approximately one mile through the heart of downtown Austin, Texas. The City’s Urban Trail Master Plan includes a desired width for shared use hike and bike trails of twelve feet. Originally constructed in the 1960s, the existing trail is eight feet wide and in need of maintenance and trail amenity upgrades. Walker Partners was selected by the City of Austin to provide a Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) to study the feasibility of widening this section of trail and implementing trail amenities and stream bank improvements.

The challenge of this project is the location of the trail within the Shoal Creek greenbelt corridor. The Shoal Creek corridor regularly floods, conveying high velocity stormwater downstream, inundating the Creek corridor and the trail. The banks of the Shoal Creek are very steep, making the trail above susceptible to damage from erosion and destabilized banks. Additionally, the Creek banks and trail corridor include significant trees and vegetation, which must be preserved to the extent practical within the trail improvements project – a challenge indeed for the City and the design team!


Walker Partners assembled a team of highly qualified subconsultants to assist in providing engineering services for the various design disciplines included in the project scope. This includes: Surveying; Civil; Environmental; Geotechnical; Electrical; and Structural Engineering; Hydrologic & Hydraulic Analysis; Accessibility; Landscape Architecture; and Transportation Design. Walker Partners worked closely with the City of Austin, as well as the neighborhoods and private stakeholders, to understand the many, and sometimes competing, project goals.

The objective of a Preliminary Engineering Report is not only to prepare for the final design phase, but to gather public opinion and invite all stakeholders to participate in distilling the project from concept to preliminary design. Partnering with the City of Austin and private stakeholder groups, Walker Partners invited the public to an open house, where we presented project challenges and design concept solutions. The public was able to share feedback and all parties were able to provide invaluable input into the preliminary design process. In addition to project specific meetings and events, Walker Partners’ staff participated in extracurricular events coordinated by the Shoal Creek Conservancy. This allowed Walker Partners to gain additional perspective for the project and develop relationships with the community.


The success of the public outreach and engagement process contributed directly to the success of the Preliminary Engineering Report and preliminary design phase. Walker Partners was able to create lasting relationships with the City, as well as the community and local stakeholder groups. Building trust within the community is critical to the success of a high profile, highly sensitive project in the heart of a hallowed environmental corridor within a major metropolitan City.   

completion date: 2017

location: austin, tx

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