AUSTIN -- The work kicks off Friday morning along Lady Bird Lake. The City of Austin is launching the Boardwalk project at the hike and bike trail.

There s about a one mile gap in the trail that the boardwalk will close, completing the full loop.

Currently, hikers, joggers and bikers on the trail run into a dead-end on the South side of the lake. It forces them onto sidewalks along the road instead of at the shoreline.

Renderings of the Boardwalk show a dramatically different look. It will begin near the Austin American Statesman office on the Southside of the lake near Congress Avenue and will continue under IH-35.

I am excited because then you can do the full loop and come back around and make your run a lot longer and a lot safer, said trail user, Christine Kury.

Part of the boardwalk will sit on land. More than half will be over the water. Crews will build it up five to six feet above the water, on galvanized steel and concrete piers.

It s expected to cost $22 million to complete the project. Voters approved $17 million in a 2010 bond election. Private donations paid for the rest including a $1 million donation from the trail s namesake, Roy and Ann Butler.

This is so exciting and it will be wonderful for Austin, said Ann Butler, I decided since I started it, I'm going to finish it.

Additional donations including a $650,000 gift from The Moody Foundation and a $100,000 from The James M. Cox Foundation will pay for beautification.

Not only will it be safer, but it will be beautiful it will be a lakefront trail for the entire ten mile loop, described Susan Ranking of The Trail Foundation.

Once the work starts, officials estimate the boardwalk extension should take 18 months to complete. The project kick-off on Friday starts at 10:00 a.m. The Austin Fire Department is schedule to conduct a water cannon salute.
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