By Kristina Michel
Two Houston-area projects to expand pedestrian and bike paths along Brays Bayou are also expected to bring benefits to the University of Houston community.
The $30 million Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit Project was made possible through federal funds in the form of a $15 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant awarded to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD). The six separate partnership projects that comprise this grant will expand the nearly 300-mile bikeway system in Houston and close gaps between shared-use bike/pedestrian paths along White Oak Bayou, Buffalo Bayou and Brays Bayou.
The Brays Bayou section of the project, known as the Brays Bayou Path, will add 1.7 miles to the existing 14.3-mile trail bike/pedestrian path along the bayou from MacGregor Park to Old Spanish Trail, as well as a 0.6 cart path to link to the Energy Research Park (ERP).
A second HPARD project, funded through the federal Transportation Enhancement Program administered by the Texas Department of Transportation, will add a connection bridge over the bayou for cyclists and pedestrians, adjacent to the current road bridge on Martin Luther King Boulevard.
“With the expanded trail and the adjacent golf cart path, students, faculty and staff will have an alternate means to go from ERP to the central UH campus,” said Jason Trippier, director of UH System Properties. “UH Facilities Planning and Construction is in the planning stages of designing a path that would connect the parking lot at ERP to where the constructed golf cart path ends.”
The overall goal of the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit Project is to improve mobility throughout Houston and better connect cyclists and pedestrians to bus and rail stops, employment centers and major retail and entertainment destinations. The trail is expected to be completed in December. The connection bridge is expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.
“We’re very privileged to have been a part of this project. It will not only benefit the University of Houston community, but it will also benefit the Houston community as a whole,” said Trippier.
Major participating partners in Brays Bayou Path project include the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, UH, Houston Parks Board and the Harris County Flood Control District.
“The Office of Real Estate Services coordinated easements to allow the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Harris County Flood Control District to work on channel improvements on parts of the land the University owns in order to construct the trail,” said Trippier.
Harris County Flood Control District channel improvements are part of a major flood control effort called the Project Brays Flood Damage Reduction Project. It hopes to increase the bayou’s ability to absorb and drain stormwater to better protect neighborhoods and communities from flooding and to mitigate the impact of sea level rise during a hurricane.
The Brays Bayou Path costs about $3.4 million of the overall $30 million Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit Project. It is being funded by a portion of the federal TIGER grant, parks bonds from the City of Houston, Houston Parks Board and UH. UH donated $468,275 toward the project.
To learn more about the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit Project, visit the Houston Parks Board website.
To learn more about the Harris County Flood Control District’s Project Brays Flood Damage Reduction Project, go to www.projectbrays.org.
For more information about the UH Office of Real Estate services visit www.uh.edu/af/universityservices/realestate/.