Austin Parks Foundation (APF) is excited to announce that developments to revitalize the Zilker Train are well underway with the anticipated reopening in the fall of 2021. The tunnel under the Barton Springs Road Bridge will be receiving an update along with the track, depot, and other features. APF has just released its Request for Proposal (RFP) for artists to design a site-specific outdoor mural to be installed underneath the Barton Springs Road Bridge and is now accepting submissions through May 7, 2021.
With so much excitement around the opening of the new Zilker Park train, our goal in this restoration process is to evoke the spirit of Austin—past and present. When it comes to our parks, Austin Parks Foundation is always looking for opportunities to work with community partners. What better way to do so than by having a local artist design one of the main focal points of the new route that families will pass under day after day?
APF is working with the City of Austin’s Art in Public Places Program (AIPP) for this project. Criteria for the RFP include site-specific artwork with the potential to do the following: Brand the space, introduce color, serve as a backdrop for photos, and provide visual interest. The piece must be durable and suitable for the outdoors with the ability to withstand interaction with the public.
The mural site is set on the west side of the river and the piece will run underneath the bridge, approximately 52 feet and between 8-10 feet high. Once an artist and design is selected internally by APF, the organization will work with the AIPP team on the final selection and have the project and art approved. For the full RFP and guidelines to submit, please visit austinparks.org/zilker-train.
Fond Memories and a Growing Community
As one of the most beloved attractions in Austin, the new train will bridge the gap between fond memories of the past and Austin’s growing future. The revitalization of the train will provide an affordable family activity that is accessible to all. With more than 175,000 train riders and nearly 1.5 million Zilker Park visitors per year, the artist selected has the unique opportunity for their design to help echo the old Austin adage that everyone is welcome.
On the 60th anniversary of the Zilker train, the beloved Austin attraction is slated to return this fall, bringing family fun back to Zilker Park. In May of 2019, the Zilker Zephyr was taken out of commission due to track erosion, but the revamped all-electric mini-train will make its debut with improvements and a new name very soon. The new branding and name for the train, which was decided by the Austin community, will be revealed later this month, on April 23rd via Instagram Live.
Shape the Future of Zilker Park
In an effort to make immediate and necessary improvements while Zilker Park undergoes a vision planning process to build a new, long-term vision for the park, APF was contacted by the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD). APF will operate the Zilker train, with proceeds benefiting Zilker Park, while the community has a chance to determine how the train fits into the new vision for the park.
PARD is looking for input from the Austin community to ensure that improvements to Zilker reflect Austin’s needs and desires. Click here to take the survey!