A Better View of Austin’s Bats

The more than 2.6 million visitors who use the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike-Trail each year now have a safer route underneath the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge — and a better view of its famous bat colony.

Partnering with The Trail Foundation in Austin, Freese and Nichols designed this new 175-foot pedestrian and bicycle bridge to allow for better flow, eliminating a blind spot.

The team also created a special lighting system so as not to disturb the bats’ flight pattern at dusk.

The handrail’s lighting is divided in half, with one half being delayed an hour to allow the bats time to exit. The lighting uses a flood detection system, which cuts power during high-water events, and a 100 percent renewable photovoltaic solar power source.

“The new Trail Bridge at Congress Avenue isn’t just a solution to a problem,” said Heidi Anderson, The Trail Foundation’s executive director. “It’s a new thread of community, a new destination on the Trail.”

Along with coming under budget, the team used a streamlined design, including precast concrete deck panels, to erect the bridge in a matter of weeks and complete construction in a matter of months.