So where does Barton Creek go when it gets to Barton Springs Pool? It disappears into the sidewalk beneath your feet on the north side of the Pool into a structure known as the Bypass Tunnel or BT. In its entire 35 plus year history, it has had little or no major maintenance, has endured countless floods, use and abuse, but still it survives, and looks pretty darn good from the topside. When the Barton Springs Pool Master Plan was created, $250,000 was set aside for maintenance of the BT based primarily on its good looks on the outside.
But go inside the BT and the story changes. It is then that you realize that it is an aging, cracking, 35 year old leaking tunnel that is full of holes which drain the pool and threaten the salamander. It was clear that the BT was going to need more than a facelift. In 2009 the City of Austin commissioned the engineering firm PKA to develop various options, including total replacement. FBSP representatives attended many public meetings that year to provide input on the various options until a final option was selected, to the tune of $3.5 million. Everything seemed to be going fine, when suddenly sometime in the summer/fall of 2010, the City of Austin (COA) pulled the plug on the final option and hit the restart button, do not pass go, go back to square one.
Continue reading “The Bypass Tunnel Update, or Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel?”