Houston’s Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative will build 150 miles of hike and bike trails along the city’s nine waterways, a $220 million effort that Mayor Annise Parker says is “one of the most exciting things I’ve had the opportunity to work on as mayor” – and which is only now gathering steam.
“It’s a transformative project designed to string the beads of existing trail systems into an integrated whole,” Parker said, “but also designed to put accessible park and green space into every neighborhood of Houston by putting trails along all of the small rivers that cross the city.”
The ambitious plan advanced Wednesday as City Council approved $19 million for the next phase of trails in north Houston and also cleared the way for the purchase of land on which some of the trails will run.
Bayou Greenways’ construction progress has been modest thus far as the parks board designs the new trails and slogs through the dual permitting process of the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the parks board’s Catherine Butsch, as both entities have jurisdiction.
About 3.5 miles of trail have been built, mostly along White Oak Bayou, but Butsch said the pace is likely to increase sharply.
Construction is to start soon along a section of White Oak in the I-10 corridor. That follows the recent openings of a new bridge near T.C. Jester and 11th Street over White Oak, and of a new trail section from Antoine to Alabonson.
Along Brays Bayou, a trail section from Mason Park to Old Spanish Trail opened last year, and that segment will soon be extended to the University of Houston.
On Sims Bayou, construction is scheduled to start on the two trail sections at the far eastern and western edges of the city limits by year’s end, in tandem with design work on the middle sections.
Design also will start this year on two sections of trail along Greens Bayou and on a far western section of trail planned along Brays.
“When it is completed by 2020, we estimate that six out of 10 Houstonians will live within a mile and a half of one of these Bayou Greenways,” Butsch said. “That’s really enhancing access to park land. We’re really able to use our natural resources, our bayous, in a special way like no other city.”
I love this project, and I believe it will do a lot to make Houston a better place to live. We have all these bayous, we should be taking full advantage of them. A lot of the funding for this is privately raised as well, making it a better deal overall. I’m especially looking forward to the White Oak/I-10 work, but it’s great to see this happening farther out as well.