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Grand Opening of Hike-and-Bike Trail Connector in Downtown Houston

Houstonians celebrate ribbon cutting of much-anticipated connection between Buffalo Bayou trails and White Oak Bayou Greenway

Media Contacts:

Houston Parks Board
Rachel Compton, Elmore Public Relations
rachel [at] elmorepr [dot] com / 713.524.0661

Houston Parks and Recreation Department
Estella Espinosa
estella.espinosa [at] houstontx [dot] gov / 832.395.7022

HOUSTON, TX – April 28, 2018 – On Saturday morning, the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Parks Board, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, and the Greater East End Management District celebrated the much-anticipated completion of the hike-and-bike trail connection between White Oak Bayou Greenway and Buffalo Bayou trails. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the last of the six-part $30 million “Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit” project, funded by the US Department of Transportation’s Transportation Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, District H Council Member Karla Cisneros, Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Steve Wright, Houston Parks Board President and CEO Beth White, Buffalo Bayou Partnership Board Member Jeff Taylor and University of Houston Downtown President Dr. Juan Muñoz all spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of this critical connector in downtown Houston and the completion of the TIGER projects funded in Houston.

Highlights of the event also included a commissioned poem from noted poet, Outspoken Bean, and two students from Meta-Four Houston, a program of Writers in the Schools. Event attendees enjoyed live music from the Black Water Roll Band.

Originally awarded in 2012 to the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the “Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit” project was funded by a $15 million USDOT TIGER grant, combined with local matching donations raised by the Houston Parks Board, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, Greater East End Management District and other partners. The General Service Department managed the project on behalf of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

“I am excited about the opening of the trail connecting White Oak Bayou and Buffalo Bayou. The trail will create convenient access for people walking, bicycling or simply enjoying the great outdoors who want to connect with neighbors and downtown Houston in a new way,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This also brings us another step closer to realizing our vision of complete and connected communities.”

“The completion of the TIGER grant project is a shining example of the power of partnerships,” said Steve Wright, Director Houston Parks and Recreation Department. “Together, we can do great things working toward a common goal of connecting neighborhoods through parks and greenspaces.”

Linking White Oak Bayou Greenway to Buffalo Bayou trails and greenspaces including Buffalo Bayou Park, this new segment will connect Houstonians to downtown, transit centers, communities, recreational areas and each other. It serves as an alternative transportation thoroughfare for the Houston workforce and students to safely and easily commute to downtown. It also provides easier access to destinations north of White Oak Bayou Greenway and across the I-10 corridor.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the completion of this downtown trail connector because it will serve such a vast number of communities, local businesses, residents and visitors,” said Beth White, President and CEO of Houston Parks Board. “Houston Parks Board is proud to have helped manage this project, and the completion of this hike-and-bike trail is just one of our many efforts to increase connectivity throughout the city of Houston.”

This hike-and-bike trail connector provides a vital contribution to the grand vision of the Bayou Greenways network. Bayou Greenways 2020 is a public-private partnership between the nonprofit Houston Parks Board, the City of Houston and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department and is being implemented in close collaboration with the Harris County Flood Control District, which manages the county’s bayous and creeks for drainage and flood risk reduction. It will transform 3,000 acres of underutilized land along nine major waterways into a 150-mile linear park and trail system that crisscrosses the city.

The Bayou Greenways are maintained by the Houston Parks Board’s Conservation and Maintenance Team through an agreement with the City of Houston. Maintenance responsibilities include regular mowing, de-littering, and graffiti abatement. The conservation program serves to enhance the linear parklands with habitat boxes, native plantings, wildflower plantings and tree plantings.

“We have always seen this area as the nexus of Houston’s hike and bike trail system,” said Anne Olson, President of Buffalo Bayou Partnership. “The new trail segment will not only link bicyclists and pedestrians to Buffalo Bayou’s parks but will offer them an alternative mode of transportation to their jobs in downtown.”

"The completion of this connector trail further breaks down barriers for East End commuters and visitors of the District alike,” said Veronica Chapa Gorczynski, President of Greater East End Management District. “We’re thrilled to have another safe, off-street option for walkers, joggers and cyclists to navigate our great City.”

Historic Timeline of USDOT Transportation Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grant
(See map in original grant proposal)

• 2010 HPARD and HPB agree to partner in grant proposal with HPARD as eligible applicant and HPB as primary partner to support Bayou Greenway initiative and develop connections to transit.
• 2011 HPARD receives council approval to apply for TIGER grant
• 2012 TIGER grant awarded
• 2015
- (May 2) White Oak Bayou Path: 11th Street to Heights Bike Trail and Stude Park Opened. Partner: HPB (project 2 in grant)
- (July 9) White Oak Bayou Path: Alabonson Road/Antoine Drive Link Opened. Partner: HPB (project 1 in grant)
• 2016
- (Jan. 19) Brays Bayou Path Gap: MLK/ Old Spanish Trail Link Partner: University of Houston and HPB (project 6 in grant)
- (Mar. 31) Buffalo Bayou Path: Smith Street/Travis Street Partner: Buffalo Bayou Partnership and TIRZ #3 Downtown Redevelopment Authority (project 4 in grant) - (Jul. 30) East Downtown Connections: Transit/Residential/Commercial Connections Partner: Greater East End Management District B (project 5 in grant)
• 2018
- (Apr. 28) White Oak Bayou Path: Connections to Residential Neighborhoods & Buffalo Bayou trail. Partner: HPB and TIRZ #3 Downtown Redevelopment Authority (project 3 in grant)

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A nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to providing access to quality parks and greenspace in the Greater Houston region, Houston Parks Board creates, improves, protects and advocates for parks for everyone. Since 1976, the organization has utilized public-private partnerships and its extensive philanthropic, government and community relationships to improve parks large and small. Houston Parks Board is currently leading the transformational $220 million Bayou Greenways 2020 project to complete a 150-mile network of connected parks and trails along Houston’s major waterways. For more information, visit www.houstonparksboard.org.

Bayou Greenways 2020 is one of the most ambitious parks projects in the U.S. By transforming more than 3,000 acres of underutilized land along Houston’s major waterways into linear parks, Bayou Greenways 2020 will complete a 150-mile network of connected parks and trails. The $220 million project will connect people, places, and greenspace while enhancing air and water quality, preserving flood-prone areas and stimulating economic development in Houston.

The Houston Parks and Recreation Department (H.P.A.R.D.) stewards and manages over 37,851 acres of parkland and greenspace for the City of Houston and develops and implements recreational programming for citizens of all abilities. For more information on the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, call 832.395.7022 or visit www.houstonparks.org.

Established in 1986, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is the non-profit organization transforming and revitalizing Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource. BBP’s geographic focus is the 10-square mile stretch of Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. Thanks to the generous support of foundations, corporations, individuals and government agencies, BBP has raised and leveraged more than $150 million for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront – spearheading award-winning projects such as Sabine Promenade and Sesquicentennial Park, protecting land for future parks, constructing hike and bike trails, and operating comprehensive clean-up and maintenance programs. In 2015, BBP completed the $58 million Buffalo Bayou Park project that includes major destinations, natural landscaping, footpaths, trail lighting, water features and pedestrian bridges. Buffalo Bayou Partnership maintains and operates Buffalo Bayou Park, with annual funding provided by the Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #3. Buffalo Bayou Partnership also seeks ways to activate Buffalo Bayou through pedestrian, boating and biking amenities; volunteer activities; permanent and temporary art installations; and wide-ranging tours and events that attract thousands. For more information, please visit www.buffalobayou.org.