Austin city officials plan to expedite construction of one phase of the North Walnut Creek Trail at the behest of nearby residents.

The North Walnut Creek Trail is a new trail within the Walnut Creek Greenbelt that will run about 5 miles starting at Balcones District Park and ending at I-35 and Walnut Creek. Phase 1A project manager Clay Harris hosted a community meeting Jan. 28 to discuss progress on that portion of the trail.

Phase 1A will include a 10-foot-wide concrete trail with 2-foot shoulders from Amherst Drive to the MoPac Trail being built by the Regional Turnpike Authority.

Phase 1A is being constructed concurrently with the Waters Park Relief Main project—a plan to install a larger wastewater system to replace the Waters Park Interceptor, which is operating at 80 percent capacity.

Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Water Utility combined the projects to expedite construction and reduce the inconvenience to the neighborhood, according to Harris.

Design of the southern portion of Phase 1A is complete, and Harris said he plans to begin advertising for construction contracts within a month. He said he expects construction of the WPRM and the southern portion of Phase 1A to begin this summer and take one year to complete.

At a community meeting in August, residents asked Harris to explore a second staging area so two construction companies could work on separate segments of the trail at once and possibly finish Phase 1A sooner.

On Jan. 28, Harris said one construction crew could use an open field near the trail as a staging area and another crew could use space on the trail, which would be closed to the public. He said two construction staging areas would mean the northern portion of Phase 1A could be completed by December 2017, though it was slated to be completed by summer 2018.

A segment of the northern part of Phase 1A, near Scribe Drive, was redesigned to incorporate a switchback where the original design called for a long, steep hill, Harris said. The switchback changes the direction of the trail and adds two level landings to reduce its slope.

The new design is also compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said.

Phase 1 of the trail, which starts at MoPac and Waters Park Road and ends about 3 miles later in Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, is nearing completion, but landscaping, handrail installation and cleanup work continues, according the Public Works Department website.

Construction has not yet begun on Phase 2, which will pick up at Walnut Creek Park and end at I-35 and Walnut Creek.