A popular hiking and running trail in Austin, Texas, has over 2.6 million visits every year—reflecting the city’s recent growth, including increased downtown residential and office development.
The hiking trail runs around Lady Bird Lake and at one point passes beneath a large automobile bridge: the Ann Richards-Congress Avenue Bridge. That area had become a safety concern due to a tight curve that created a collision threat for pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore, a new pedestrian bridge was designed to replace a decades-old wooden one—linking the trail east to west with a reconfigured radius that improves visibility.
The new pedestrian bridge design was meant to be “as beautifully simple as possible and cost-efficient,” says landscape designer Claire Hempel, principal of landscape architect Design Workshop Austin. In contrast, the handrail was designed to be like jewelry—structurally sound while also intricate, with lighting built into the handrail itself.
When Mark Herzer, principal for Specification Sales at the lighting specifier for this project, Spectrum Lighting Austin, saw the curvature of the handrail, he said only one product would do the job: iLight Plexineon LED fixtures.
“It was complicated,” he says. “We had the radiuses to deal with and figuring out where we were going to locate remote power supplies, how many we’d need, and other considerations near a body of water.”
So iLight worked closely with engineers Freese & Nichols, Inc., on the alignment and power issues. They used 455 linear feet of Plexineon White 2X 2800. “When doing these types of projects, iLight is a great resource because of their excellent service,” Herzer says.
The new pedestrian bridge extends out over the lake and includes a viewing platform for an iconic Austin attraction that draws onlookers each day from March to November. At sunset, approximately 1.5 million bats emerge from their homes in and under the Congress Avenue Bridge and swirl around central and south Texas through the night as they consume insects in a feeding frenzy.
Besides ensuring safer passage and providing a place to watch “the Austin bats,” the new trail bridge is also beautiful. At night, the glow of Plexineon follows the curves of the trail while making the vertical rails glow and sparkle.
“We’re really happy to see how well it turned out,” Hempel says. “The fixture is completely concealed underneath the handrail. It’s gorgeous how the light reflects off the vertical, bent galvanized bars —reflecting both pattern and shadow.”