AUSTIN, Texas - A proposed 100+ mile spring-to-spring network of trails is becoming a reality for Central Texas.
Great Springs Project announced a plan for the trail network on April 11. Alta Planning + Design will support Great Springs through the project that is aimed to reach completion by the Texas Bicentennial in 2036.
The trail network will span across four counties over the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone: Travis, Hays, Comal, and Bexar. Barton Springs will act as the northern head of Great Springs Trail, while San Antonio Springs will act as the southern head. The trail will pass through San Marcos Springs and Comal Springs.
One of the main reasons behind implementing the 100+ mile trail is to conserve the open space above Edwards Aquifer. Great Springs says the opportunity to establish this green protected corridor, and other open spaces like these, will become fewer and further between as the areas between Austin and San Antonio continue to grow.
"Community, connectivity, and conservation are at the heart of Great Springs Project," Carter Smith, Executive Director of Texas Parks and Wildlife commented. "Texas Parks & Wildlife is proud to support this regional vision that honors and protects the rich history, culture, and natural resources of Texas’ famed Hill Country."
Great Springs estimates that communities from Austin to San Antonio will experience over $50 million in total annual benefits following the completion of this trail.
Nearly $24 million of the estimated annual benefits will go straight into the Central Texas economy, coming from trail users spending money on food, retail, entertainment and lodging, says Great Springs.
The project team aims to conserve 50,000 acres of land by 2036, providing benefits for land, water, and flood protection. In turn, this will positively impact water quality and supply, wildlife habitats and pollination as well as ranches, farms and managed forest lands. Great Springs estimates this conservation will result in $18 million in benefits.
Usage of the trail by pedestrians and cyclists is estimated to offset nearly 13 million motor vehicle miles, says Great Springs. This will reduce traffic congestion, vehicle crash costs, road maintenance costs and household vehicle operation costs as well as reduce vehicle emissions.
Great Springs also hopes the trail will help introduce healthy lifestyles to newly active people, which will help lower the cost of healthcare.
For a full list of trail benefits, click here.
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