Next Phase of Waterloo Greenway Park System Moving Forward with $9M Grant

The ecological reimagining of Waller Creek along the eastern edge of the Central Business District has received a big boost: $9 million in federal funds that will allow construction to begin on the second phase of the Waterloo Greenway park system.

Dubbed The Confluence, that second phase envisions beautifying Waller Creek with nearly 1,550 trees, 200,000 mature plants and 10 acres of seed mixes that “will improve downtown air quality, improve ecosystem functions, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce the urban heat island effect,” according to an April 25 announcement. Plans also call for elevated walkways and bridges over the creek.

Construction on The Confluence is set to begin in October, according to Waterloo Greenway Conservancy, the organization driving the plan.

“We are at the cusp of an environmental transformation in downtown Austin,” Jorge Morales, watershed protection director for the city of Austin, said in a statement. “This level of reconstruction is unlike any project the City of Austin has been able to build in support of healthier downtown habitats and watersheds.”

In June 2021, New York-based Reger secured $278.5 million in construction financing from Madison Realty Capital LP, to be used for The Linden and EastVillage on East Parmer Lane.

Eventually, the 35-acre Waterloo Greenway park system will feature trails, bridges and green space that connects the University of Texas at Austin at the north end all the way down to Lady Bird Lake, just west of the Rainey Street Historic District.

The Confluence follows the 2021 completion of the first phase: the restoration of the 11-acre Waterloo Park, anchored by the Moody Amphitheater.

The $9 million in federal funding was made possible through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, according to the announcement. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dedicating the money to restore Waller Creek.

“This $9 million represents both the first benefit to Austin from the new Infrastructure law and the very first environmental infrastructure project to ever be approved in the State of Texas,” U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett said in a statement. “More green space, cleaner water, economic development potential — another big plus for our quality of life in Austin.”

Overall, the project is expected to be constructed over three phases and cost an estimated $265 million — $150 million of which is coming from city of Austin bond funding. Private donations also make up a sizable portion of project funding, according to the Waterloo Greenway website.