Marble Falls explores adding pedestrian bridge across US 281

STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS

Marble Falls possible pedestrian bridge location

Marble Falls City Council rejected a nearly $500,000 bid for a gateway arch over Third Street off US 281 during its regular meeting May 21. The council directed city staff to explore the option of building a pedestrian bridge over US 281 that could connect Main Street to east downtown businesses. Staff photo by Jared Fields

What began as an idea for a gateway arch to welcome people to Marble Falls’ downtown area took quite the turn during the May 21 regular City Council meeting.

A proposed arch to cross Third Street, welcoming visitors to downtown, turned into discussion of a possible pedestrian bridge to cross US 281.

An arch structure estimated to cost between $200,000-$250,000 in the Parks Phase 1A project came back with just one bid at twice the estimate: $498,205.

“Needless to say, when we received one bid of double that amount, we were a bit surprised by that,” Marble Falls Parks and Recreation Director Robert Moss told the council.

The City Council voted 4-0 to reject the lone bid (members Celia Merrill, Richard Westerman, and Dave Rhodes were absent).

In its place, staff presented an idea for a structure that could welcome people to the city and provide a service.

“If we’re going through trouble of this magnitude, it costs more yes, but could cross pedestrians over (US 281),” said Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel.

Erin Burks, Downtown Coordinator, said the idea came after hearing about safety concerns. Police Chief Mark Whitacre, Burks said, mentioned the city has had two pedestrians hit by vehicles on the highways in recent years as they tried to cross the road. Business owners near downtown and US 281 also said they regularly see visitors struggle to cross back and forth across the highway.

“It’s about increased safety,” Burks said.

City Council directed staff to explore the option of placing a pedestrian bridge somewhere across the highway on Second Street. Early staff cost estimates for a possible structure are near $2 million. Some of that would come from money budgeted for the proposed arch out of Phase 1A bonds, and other funding sources could come from other sources within the city or outside sources.

The east side of US 281 has had an increase in foot traffic in recent years. It took another jump with the addition of Bear King Brewery opening earlier this year. The Blue Bonnet Cafe and Marble Falls Visitors Center are staples of the area, and two other retail stores (REDID and Birdie’s Market) have contributed to more traffic east of the highway.

Kraenzel and Burks said a potential pedestrian bridge would have to meet required federal standards for height and construction, with location of traffic lights at the intersection also taken into consideration.

After staff researches the topic further, another presentation could be brought before City Council, however a date is not known.

jared@thepicayune.com

10 Responses to “Marble Falls explores adding pedestrian bridge across US 281”

  1. Andrea Thompson says:

    Great idea! Safety is paramount; but, this will also enhance business on both sides.

  2. Ferd Nardhol says:

    Geez, if you’re going to spend $500,000 plus, how about you spend ‘our’ tax money expanding the VFD, or some other meaningful Civic utility? What are you trying to do, become Austin lite? And while you’re about it, how about you attract another Diner or two like a Denny’s or some other full-service comfort restaurant. The Blue Bonnet has had a monopoly on Breakfast/Lunch far too long, it’s time we had some competition over here.

    • Breakfast #1 says:

      Preach on the whole bluebonnet monopoly. Get a freakin deny’s already

      • LRC says:

        If y’all want a Denny’s, go to Austin! If you want a big box store, go to Austin! It’s not that far…why in the world do y’all want MF to keep getting bigger and bigger? If you want all the conveniences of a big city, then move to one.

        As far as a pedestrian bridge, that’s just ridiculous! If the city is so concerned about safety, how about patrolling the traffic lights?
        Every single morning at 2nd Street and 281 at least 3 to 4 vehicles run that light on 281. If a pedestrian were to rely on the light to let them cross, it’s a very good possibility they’re going to get hit! The lights seem to be more of a suggestion.
        It’s nice that they finally striped 2nd Street at the light…finally.

  3. Gina York says:

    We don’t need a pedestrian bridge
    Throw that money in a bucket to make a overpass or bypass to get those 18 wheelers
    Out of town!!!!!!
    We need it !!!!

    • Marian says:

      I agree with Gina York about and overpass to remove 18 wheelers. Should have been done when planned 20 years ago. Next: after leaving 281/1431, the streets are horrible.

  4. Michele Hart says:

    Seriously!!! Give me a dang break! I’ve just returned from California… where EVERYONE WALKS… EVERYWHERE! —Do Flashing Striped Walking Lanes w a beeping sound- (at 2nd /281 & 3rd /281) -like they do in Every big city! The 30-80 people a Week that May walk across this highway are not reason to spend 100s of 1000s $$$ to “Keep Safe”!
    Seriously, we are a Car society in Texas… not a walking society… the walkers Walk in Parks!
    The real problem is the highway not having been made wider & more pedestrian friendly during the new bridge build… & having no Inviting Directional Arch to Guide Visitors and locals to the historic part of our town!

  5. MM says:

    What an unbelievable misuse of OUR tax dollars this would be. How can this possibly be a priority? An arch or a bridge does not create tourism. We have not even been able to support the Uptown Theater with its many efforts of providing good music venues and events, nor the several attempts at upscale dining, nor bakeries. I see many empty spaces and spaces going to real estate offices or non-tourism related business.

    Fredericksburg has no arch or a pedestrian bridge with their massive tourism.

    MF traffic is so heavy that it is difficult to speed through the main part of town. I just don’t see an unusual safety concern for pedestrians using crosswalks.

  6. BR says:

    I like the idea. I’ll be interested to see a cost estimate and sketch of what it would look like in a future article.

  7. Monique Ragsdale says:

    Talk about a waste of money, no bridge is needed. People who cross jaywalking that is their problem. We are not Austin and bunch of fruit loops.

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