Take a virtual tour of the Waller Creek Tunnel


Streaming fatigue is real these days, right up there with feeling like a Zoom zombie.

But if you’re not too burned out, why not satisfy your urban infrastructure curiosity with a live virtual tour of the Waller Creek Tunnel?

Presented by Waterloo Greenway director of planning and design John Rigdon along with Kristin Pipkin of the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, the live tour will offer the rare chance to see the inside of the tunnel that ranges in size from 22 to 26 feet in diameter.

Waterloo-In-Place Virtual Tour: Waller Creek Tunnel
12:30 p.m. May 20
RSVP at waterloogreenway.org/events/virtual-tour-waller-creek-tunnel/

You must RSVP in advance to receive the GoToMeeting video conference details. If you can’t make it, full recordings of the tour will be posted the following day at waterloogreenway.org.

Waterloo Greenway is the private non-profit working in partnership with the city to transform the chain of parks along Waller Creek with amenities including a major amphitheatre and pavilion, playscapes, trails and picnic areas, among other features.

Built to lift 28 acres of highly desirable downtown real estate out of the 100-year floodplain, the tunnel runs about a mile, starting at the southern edge of Waterloo Park at Twelfth Street. Sitting 70 feet below the surface, the tunnel captures floodwater and releases it downstream into Lady Bird Lake.

It being an Austin public project, the tunnel hasn’t been without its tumults, of course. It began construction in 2011 and hit cost overruns and mistakes, including one above-ground structure that blocked a view corridor of the state Capitol. That structure had to be re-built, costing the city millions.

Then beginning in 2013, the city spent five years battling with the project’s main contractor  over the quality of workmanship, claiming that the tunnel had flaws. In 2018, the city’s Public Works Department said it has fixed the tunnel’s defects as much as possible.

The tunnel cost $161 million and is funded through tax increment financing, or TIF. The TIF uses funds are generated from the anticipated increased property values along the tunnel now that it is out of the 100-year-flood plain.


Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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