Austin’s Pennybacker Bridge

360 bridge under construction

Pennybacker Bridge (under construction)

The Percy V. Pennybacker Jr. Bridgemore commonly known as the 360 Bridge, in Austin Texas is a through-arch bridge across Lake Austin. The bridge connects the northern and southern sections of the Loop 360 highway, also known as the “Capital of Texas Highway.” The road is widely considered one of the most scenic urban drives in Texas, in large part due to this arched weathering-steel bridge and the rolling hills that flank the road.

The bridge is constructed such that no part of the structure touches the water which is 100 feet below. The bridge is 1,150 feet long with a 600 foot central arched span. This design keeps Lake Austin free from support columns because the recreational lake is popular with boaters. The untied arch suspension span is suspended by 72 steel cables. At the time of its construction, it was only the second bridge of its design in the world. The bridge won first place in the 1984 Federal Highway Administration’s Excellence in Highway Design competition. In 1992, the Austin members of the Consulting Engineers Council of Texas were surveyed and selected the bridge as the most innovative example of Austin architecture.


loop 360 overlook

360 Overlook

This bridge is fairly commonly photographed for Austin’s tourism. The bridge also has a wonderful overlook accessible by this trail that is well worth a quick stop if passing by. Parking is available on the west and east side of the road immediately north of the bridge. It’s easiest to park when heading south on 360 as the road is now considered a major roadway and thoroughfare for the city. There is room for quite a few cars, but it is a popular trail, so it can fill up. Check out this site for more details.


loop 360 boat ramp

Loop 360 Boat Ramp

The Loop 360 Boat Ramp is located below the southern end of Pennybacker Bridge over Lake Austin. This three-acre park is primarily used for lake access, but offers a grassy area for fishing and picnicking. A few bald cypress and sycamore trees grow along the water’s edge. Operation hours are from sunrise and civil twilight. Fees for the use of this public boat ramp are $15 for weekday entry for access with a boat and trailer. $20 for weekends and holidays or if you just want to walk in and view the park, it will be $3 per person entrance fee.

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