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#1 2017-05-16 13:57:19

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

I'd say it's 99% done.

Here's some pictures I took of it a week ago ... very little left to do.

I'd emailed the city about it at the end of April and they said the plan was to have it open this month, but they weren't more specific than that.

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#2 2017-05-17 09:53:45

flatau
Member
Registered: 2013-03-03
Posts: 9

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

It certainly would be good to have the bridge to get across the greenbelt there.  However I work on SW Parkway, and getting the last 1.5 miles or so by bike from the bridge to my office is not for the faint of heart.  Particularly at rush hour.  I have done it but it scares me every time.  Going the other way is even worse and I have not attempted it. Short of having the county repave SW Parkway and widen the shoulder (which they should do just for the car traffic, let alone the bike traffic), I don't see this helping my commute by bike to work.  It is particularly frustrating as our office used to be at the southeast corner of Mopac and 360, and it fine for biking to work.  Moving 2 miles or so makes it almost impossible.

Am I missing something or is there a reasonable route to get from the bike bridge to places on SW Parkway west of Boston Lane?

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#3 2017-05-17 11:23:46

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Well, there's only two potentially reasonable ways from Mopac and 290 to SW Parkway and Boston -- either via SW Parkway or via 290 to Boston.  Everything else would be much longer, though Republic of Texas Blvd might be useful in some cases.

I've ridden SW Parkway there and it's not good, but I didn't find it to be horrible.  (Horrible would be riding Mopac proper over the Greenbelt Northbound before this bridge is done.  And I've done that too, but not often.)

I haven't tried 290 to Boston, though I do remember that 290 gets sketchy at some point in there ... I don't remember if it's before or after Boston.  Before Boston ... it's short enough that I might be willing to walk on the grass to get to the parking lot for Safe Way Equipment rental and cut through it.

All in all ... I've got nothing that you probably haven't already considered.

But on the bright side, this bridge will probably help with the "chicken and the egg" problem of how they won't build any bicycle infrastructure here because nobody rides here because nobody can get here.  So maybe in a few years this area will be a lot better?

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#4 2017-05-21 11:28:03

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 100

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

flatau wrote:

Am I missing something or is there a reasonable route to get from the bike bridge to places on SW Parkway west of Boston Lane?

Have you tried the dirt trail from Gaines Ct over to Mesa Village Dr to Travis Country? You can see it on google maps & satellite view. It's quite sticky when muddy, but fine on a road bike when it's dry. It's my favorite way if I have to get from the bridge to SW Parkway.  I agree that eastern mile of SW Parkway is very bike-unfriendly.

I'm usually headed farther south so I continue on the frontage road across 290 and salmon on the sidewalk over to Staggerbrush.  I wish they would stripe a continuous shoulder between Gaines Ranch Loop and SW Parkway; that part where the shoulder disappears can get hairy.  I think the city has their sights set on the YBC Trail so we probably won't see any interim improvements in the area until that gets built in 10 years or whatever.

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#5 2017-05-22 10:29:15

flatau
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Registered: 2013-03-03
Posts: 9

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

owlman wrote:
flatau wrote:

Am I missing something or is there a reasonable route to get from the bike bridge to places on SW Parkway west of Boston Lane?

Have you tried the dirt trail from Gaines Ct over to Mesa Village Dr to Travis Country? You can see it on google maps & satellite view. It's quite sticky when muddy, but fine on a road bike when it's dry. It's my favorite way if I have to get from the bridge to SW Parkway.  I agree that eastern mile of SW Parkway is very bike-unfriendly.

I have walked (looking to see if it was a possibility) from Mesa Village Dr. to Gaines Ct.  Not great, but probably doable on a bike when it is dry as you suggested.  However, I have ridden by the entrance to Gaines Ranch (or whatever that community is).  It is gated, and I could not see how to enter it.  Do you wait until a car comes out?  or is there another secret?

owlman wrote:

I'm usually headed farther south so I continue on the frontage road across 290 and salmon on the sidewalk over to Staggerbrush.  I wish they would stripe a continuous shoulder between Gaines Ranch Loop and SW Parkway; that part where the shoulder disappears can get hairy.  I think the city has their sights set on the YBC Trail so we probably won't see any interim improvements in the area until that gets built in 10 years or whatever.

Staggerbrush is on the east side of 290, so I don't see how that helps.  I agree about the shoulder on the frontage road, although I believe that is either the state or county that "own" that piece of road, not the city.

Thanks for the suggestions.

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#6 2017-05-25 11:02:19

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 100

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

flatau wrote:

I have walked (looking to see if it was a possibility) from Mesa Village Dr. to Gaines Ct.  Not great, but probably doable on a bike when it is dry as you suggested.  However, I have ridden by the entrance to Gaines Ranch (or whatever that community is).  It is gated, and I could not see how to enter it.  Do you wait until a car comes out?  or is there another secret?

If a car is there or the gate's open you can cut through for a shorter route. Otherwise there's a somewhat rougher trail conection just south of the entrance, by the electrical transformer. I prefer a bumpy dirt jaunt rather than riding on Southwest Parkway itself. Your preferences may vary :)

flatau wrote:

Staggerbrush is on the east side of 290, so I don't see how that helps.

Yea sorry for the confusion, I was just talking about my route south. Agreed nothing good on the north side of 290, not even a sidewalk.

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#7 2017-06-14 12:10:59

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

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#8 2017-06-15 22:43:06

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 100

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Heh, I just saw a car get stuck in the part north of the creek! He entered at one of the office building driveways, apparently thinking it a was a lane to avoid backed-up traffic on the frontage road.

They might have to put up some more visible markings at those driveways, especially for nighttime.

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#9 2017-06-26 17:38:50

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

AAS columnist Ben Wear had a piece on the bridge this weekend--he staked it out from 6:15 to 9:15 Friday a.m. to see how much it was being used.  I can't complain about his count or method, since I've ridden it to commute from south to north 4 times now (including that Friday, though I think he had left by the time I was passing over) and haven't seen all that many cyclists on it and most of those appeared to be recreating instead of commuting, not that I inquired of anybody as Wear did.

However, a sign of success of sorts is this:  at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday there were enough cyclists going both directions (plus enough peds) that moving at ali fast on the northbound descent over the greenbelt was not recommended.

It is a good facility I have no serious complaints about.  Wide enough, practical enough, with mostly good sightlines.  10 mph average wouldn't be hard to do, I think.  There are some switchbacks so tight my "racing" bike with wheel/toe overlap issues required some caution to navigate when climbing (and a tandem would have trouble with; my usual bike switched back without problems on the weekdays).  Downhill switchbacks require caution, but that will be obvious to almost everybody.  Some cyclists are going to have complaints about the amount of climbing required, but there's really no way around that.  There's been an effort to mark the pavement to warn cyclists of cross traffic.  It is already accumulating bottle glass shards (I spent several minutes sweeping lots of nasty little pieces of a Deep Eddy vodka bottle off the bridge over the greenbelt); I had to wonder about plans for keeping it swept.  I had to wonder why the lights were on in the bright daylight hours (#wasteful @AustinEnergy).  I would rather the few bollards were painted white or yellow or orange instead of silver/grey because I think they might not be spotted in low light and I'd rather the reflective tape be placed at the bottoms of them in addition to the tops (approaching bike lights will tend to hit the bottom of a post before the top).   

As for Wear's commuter count and the question of whether it will turn out to be worth the cost, I think it will take more time to get transportation users over there.  It's not super-easy to access from points south or west or even southeast of the south end.  Many cyclists will have to experiment a bit to figure out how to get to one end or the other to use it for practical trips, and to figure out where to go when they get to the other end, whether they are already riding for transportation or just thinking about it.

Last edited by Jack (2017-06-26 17:40:22)

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#10 2017-06-26 20:36:21

RedFalcon
Member
Registered: 2013-10-10
Posts: 116

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

I was thinking about these kinds of bike facilities the other day, and I realized that just counting the number of people using them is really not enough.  I think what must also be factored into the value is the fact that the people who do use them are significantly safer. 

I guess I'm tired of the epsilon semi-moron car drivers I work with evaluating the worth of bike facilities just based on the number of cyclists they happen to see one day.  These projects have value because they allow people to not die while getting one place to another.  And yeah, some are just 'recreation cyclists', but some are people who cannot afford to own a car - but still have to get to work/school/stores.

People should be free from the tyranny of having to pay their bank or car dealership $500/month just so they can get to work and to HEB to get food.

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#11 2017-06-27 13:04:29

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

" I think what must also be factored into the value is the fact that the people who do use them are significantly safer. "

Well . . . this bridge/trail system is more about convenience and removing practical barriers to bicycle transportation.  I've ridden it several times and don't think of it as significantly safer with the exception of thinking in terms of those (I was one) who would use the MOPAC shoulder to get across the creek.  The new bridge means the casual cyclist doesn't have to go a long way out of the way to avoid the MOPAC sprint to the 360 exit.  The long way out of the way is plenty safe, it's just inconvenient and inconvenience leads to less cycling. 

I agree, though, that the "bang for the buck" is not just a matter of $ per user.  It's a calculation of $ per user spent and also the economic value of time and trouble saved and of lives/injuries saved among those users.  The value of lives and injuries is high, of course, but (reductio ad absurdum) what about the $14.5 mm bridge/path that is used only by one retiree only on every third Sunday afternoon?  Luckily, we aren't there with this one, but its actual usefulness and levels of use are important considerations.

The thing about the cost of the facility that strikes me, in terms of $X spent for Y cyclists, is that we've spent money on this good facility to make up for not thinking of cyclists when the road was built way back when.  Would've been far cheaper to integrate bicycling accommodations from the start.  That's the thing about it from my point of view--it shows the city is serious about bicycle transportation when it will go to so much trouble to fix the barriers it created when it wasn't serious.

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#12 2017-06-30 11:27:16

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

"Heh, I just saw a car get stuck in the part north of the creek! He entered at one of the office building driveways, apparently thinking it a was a lane to avoid backed-up traffic on the frontage road."

. . . and then this a.m. was the car driven up the bike path under the MOPAC bridge from the west side to the east side up to a point just past the north end of the bike bridge over the greenbelt.  A southbound cyclist gave the driver a friendly correction and she rolled down her windows to apologize to me too.  But, really, how does one make that mistake?

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#13 2017-07-05 14:13:05

owlman
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Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 100

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Something smashed into the railings on the part between 360 and Mopac the bridge over the creek. (maybe it happened a while ago?)  I noticed workers repairing two damaged sections of railing this morning.

Jack wrote:

. . . and then this a.m. was the car driven up the bike path under the MOPAC bridge from the west side to the east side up to a point just past the north end of the bike bridge over the greenbelt.

Wow!

Last edited by owlman (2017-07-07 12:09:26)

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#14 2017-07-05 15:34:28

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

"Something smashed into the railings on the part between 360 and Mopac. (maybe it happened a while ago?)  I noticed workers repairing two damaged sections of railing this morning."

I did not notice anything new in that regard this morning (maybe they were done; maybe I needed more coffee).  There have been two sections missing from the get-go on a switchback segment south of the bridge--apparently never installed.  The gaps have been marked with tape and now have wood spanning them.  Do you mean there?

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#15 2017-07-07 09:48:30

flatau
Member
Registered: 2013-03-03
Posts: 9

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

There is an entrance to the greenbelt (not on google maps, so does it really exist? :-)) directly off Gaines Ranch, so no need to wait for a gate to open.  Using this, I was able to use the new bridge to ride to work this week.  Thanks for the help.

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#16 2017-07-07 11:37:32

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Jack wrote:

"Something smashed into the railings on the part between 360 and Mopac. (maybe it happened a while ago?)  I noticed workers repairing two damaged sections of railing this morning."

I did not notice anything new in that regard this morning (maybe they were done; maybe I needed more coffee).  There have been two sections missing from the get-go on a switchback segment south of the bridge--apparently never installed.  The gaps have been marked with tape and now have wood spanning them.  Do you mean there?


Or do you mean what I noticed this morning which is between the north end of the greenbelt bridge and the south end of the 360 bridge?  It was hard to miss this morning because the repair trucks blocked about 4/5 of the path.  Lots of damage!  That would have been a vehicle crossing over the concrete separators (with reflectorized plastic posts), across both lanes of the path, and smashing along a length of the railings, damaging metal rails and fence and concrete supports.  That has to be an expensive repair, and so soon for a new thing.  dang.

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#17 2017-07-07 12:20:03

owlman
Member
Registered: 2011-12-16
Posts: 100

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Jack wrote:

Or do you mean what I noticed this morning which is between the north end of the greenbelt bridge and the south end of the 360 bridge?

Oops thank you, that's what I meant. Yeah it looked like a serious impact!

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#18 2017-07-11 15:17:30

dougmc
Administrator
Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

owlman wrote:

Something smashed into the railings on the part between 360 and Mopac the bridge over the creek. (maybe it happened a while ago?)  I noticed workers repairing two damaged sections of railing this morning!

If it's what I think it is, it happened months ago and was not repaired until now I guess.

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#19 2017-07-12 11:08:05

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

dougmc wrote:
owlman wrote:

Something smashed into the railings on the part between 360 and Mopac the bridge over the creek. (maybe it happened a while ago?)  I noticed workers repairing two damaged sections of railing this morning!

If it's what I think it is, it happened months ago and was not repaired until now I guess.

That must be it.  Repairs are ongoing now, but that's before the concrete barriers were put up.

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#20 2017-07-14 00:13:41

dougmc
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Registered: 2008-06-01
Posts: 511

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

Jack wrote:

That must be it.  Repairs are ongoing now, but that's before the concrete barriers were put up.

No, I don't think it was.

The concrete dividers were there in 2015 and the fences were not.

That damage to the fence clearly happened while those concrete barriers were up.  That said, it may have been caused by construction equipment working on the trail or something.

(Yes, I've been stalking this project for a long time!)

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#21 2017-07-14 18:16:45

Jack
Member
Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 192

Re: The Mopac Pedestrian bridge over the greenbelt is almost done ...

dougmc wrote:

No, I don't think it was.
The concrete dividers were there in 2015 and the fences were not.
(Yes, I've been stalking this project for a long time!)

And I have not!  Been observing only from newspapers until it was ready for riders and I haven't driven or ridden on that part of the frontage in ages (out of my way so not worth riding until the bridge opened).  I'll quit assuming what got erected when and what happened before or after--the project sure stretched out.  Thanks.

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