Waller Creek fix includes pontoons
Floating bridges, one crossing lake, factor into conceptual design. $420,000 grant will help transform Mercer Street with new signs, beautification projects.
long as we’re writing about things unlikely to happen ...
Last week in this space, I told you about a proposal from a local design firm to create an Austin mass transit system of amusement park-style gondolas suspended on wires. The person who suggested this, Michael McDaniel with Frog Design, admitted when I talked to him about it that his proposal was in part a provocation, as well as something of a gibe at the city-sanctioned urban rail plan.
But that column caused a friend to ask me about the plan to build a pontoon bridge across Lady Bird Lake. The plan to build ... what? Turns out pontoons feature prominently in the conceptual Waller Creek beautification plan submitted by the winning team in the recent design competition for what to do with 1 1/2 miles of that bedraggled downtown stream. The nonprofit Waller Creek Conservancy, in combination with the city, conducted that contest, and the winning team — led by New York-based architecture firms Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Thomas Phifer & Partners — will now refine those ideas into a full-fledged design and phasing plan.
This was all sparked by the ongoing construction of a
One of Dripping Springs’ oldest streets is about to get a makeover that residents hope will charm visitors into strolling, shopping and dining.
Mercer Street, in the city’s downtown, would be turned into a thriving town center for the city’s 1,788 residents, thanks to a $420,000 Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization grant.
Mercer, which runs parallel to U.S. 290, was the location of some of the city’s first businesses, and many of those storefronts have remained unchanged since they were built, mostly during the 1870s through 1940s. Mercer was anchored by a post office, but those services moved to U.S. 290 in 2009.
“It sucked the life out of Mercer Street,” said Michelle Fischer, Dripping Springs’ city administrator.
Recently, Mercer has been transformed with the addition of new businesses, including Dudley’s Wine Bar & Tap Room and the Barber Shop, a bar specializing in local craft beer.
“We’ve been trying to get something like this for a long time,” said Ted Lehr, chairman of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission. “This is the first big step. We have these grants, and we want to use the money in a cost-efficient way.” Read updates from the other families and see the original stories and photos at For more information on Season for Caring, call 445-3590 or email community@statesman. com. To make a donation, go online or see the donation form on
City officials want to add wide sidewalks, crosswalks, bicycle racks and antique-looking posts that would evoke design of decades past. Some buildings have not changed since they were built in the 1870s.