Georgetown City Council discussed three potential design concepts for the Austin Avenue pedestrian bridge at the Aug. 22 workshop meeting.

The backstory

The city has been planning possible improvements to the Austin Avenue bridge—which is situated over the San Gabriel River—for roughly seven years.

Called the Austin Avenue bridge rehabilitation project, work will include cleaning, repairing and installing a crash-test rail. Additionally, existing lanes on the bridge will be widened with added shoulders.

All existing sidewalks will also be removed in preparation for a separate pedestrian and bicycle bridge, which is another part of the project.

Engineering consultants Freese and Nichols have been meeting with stakeholders, nearby neighborhoods and the Georgetown Parks & Recreation Department to receive feedback on the favored design choices for the bridge.

Common themes for the bridge were the need for adequate lighting, bridges that blend with nature, and safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities, according to city documents.

The details

Freese and Nichols Bridge Architect Miguel Rosales outlined details of each design concept.
  • Concept 1 is a more traditional concept with no elevated structures. Its estimated cost is $8 million-$9.5 million.
  • Concept 2 is like Concept 1, but it has cables on both sides. Its estimated cost is $11.1 million-$13.1 million.
  • Concept 3 is more “dramatic,” and it has a system of cables on one side, which is one the side where the street is located. Its estimated cost is $12.7 million-$14.9 million.
The majority of the council favored Concept 2. While the designs are situated for an eastward outlook, a few council members requested that the bridge overlook is toward the west.

What officials are saying

“I like the simplicity of bridge No. 2,” Council Member Shawn Hood said. “I think it has the potential to be a statement. ... It’s still going to be a visual place maker from I-35. I think it’s going to be illuminated and a real statement.”

“No. 3 is probably overstated for Georgetown; [No.] 2, it’s a real good balance for who we are,” Council Member Ron Garland said.

While Council Member Amanda Parr originally took a liking to Concept 3, she wanted more simplicity with that layout. She said she did like Concept 2.

“We do want this to be a highlight to the Gateway as we come in on that side of our historic downtown,” Parr said. “I was more drawn to Concept 3, ... but I do feel Concept 3 may be a little too much.”

Next steps

The Freese and Nichols project team will come back in November, which is when council will select one design option to complete the environmental review and design part of the process.

The project is anticipated to go out for bid in 2025 with construction planned for 2026-27, according to city documents.