Bergstrom Spur, MoKan Corridor trails could get big boost from federal funds

Two proposed urban trails may soon see federal dollars thrown their way. 

Thanks to congressional funding requests from U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the six-mile Bergstrom Spur Trail could receive up to $25 million, and a one-mile segment of the MoKan Corridor Trail could get up to $3 million.

The federal funds, combined with a 20 percent local match endorsed by City Council on Thursday, would be enough to fully construct both segments of trail.

The Bergstrom Spur, a former Union Pacific rail corridor that traverses South Austin between Vinson Drive and U.S. Highway 183, has long been envisioned as a bike and pedestrian trail. The city also considers the corridor a potential location for mass transit in the long run.

The one-mile piece of the MoKan Corridor identified by Doggett runs from East Fifth Street to Springdale Road along the future Project Connect Green Line. Together with other urban trail projects in development, the segment would connect the Lance Armstrong Bikeway to the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, linking Downtown and East Austin.

Council members were joined by over a dozen nonprofit and advocacy groups in hailing the potential funding for the long-awaited projects.

“Over the years, we as a city have been on a roll when it comes to investing in safer, more accessible modes of getting around,” Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison said. The resolutions, she said, represent “a great strategy to leverage federal dollars to help us get closer to our 50/50 mode split goal.”

Council Member Vanessa Fuentes spoke enthusiastically about the benefits of the Bergstrom Spur for residents of South and East Austin. “It will provide my neighbors here in District 2 vital connections to transit, schools, employment centers and the like,” she said.

Should the federal money come through, it would free up more local money for other projects, including part of the $460 million active mobility bond passed last November. The two trail segments were seen as excellent uses for $80 million of the 2020 bond reserved for urban trails. 

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to get the funds for Bergstrom Spur,” Council Member Pio Renteria said, “but it’s also going to be an opportunity where we’re going to be able to use some of the extra money that we have left over on other trails.”

Photo of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway made available through a Creative Commons license.

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