HFR is thrilled, honored and proud to announce our newest contributing author – Mayor Annise Parker. She is the Mayor of Houston, the Fourth largest city in the US and has grand plans for the growth of the city. In her first article, she discusses her plans for Bayou Greenways 2020, which aims at making Houston healthier and fitter – a goal that aligns perfectly with Health Fitness Revolution’s goals of a healthier and fitter America!
I was thrilled to announce the beginning of the Bayou Greenways 2020 project last week with the Houston Parks Board and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department. The Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative will double the mileage of our parks and trails system on the banks of our bayous, creating new opportunities for recreation and enabling Houstonians to use alternative transportation to employment centers.
I believe we should do all we can to enable Houstonians to be active in their everyday lives, especially when that means finding new avenues – or trails! – for enjoying our city’s natural surroundings.
Bayou Greenways 2020 has been a long time in the making. In fact, its completion will fulfill Arthur Comey’s 100-year-old vision from 1912 to unite the city with grand green spaces along the bayous. I am proud we will finally realize that concept with 150 miles of continuous and accessible parks and trails along the major bayous within the city.
This project is the direct result of the 2012 proposition B bond election this past November, which passed with overwhelming support. Receiving 68 percent of the vote, proposition B was actually the most positive referendum in the city’s history. I am glad Houstonians share my vision for a Houston that is completely accessible to walkers, bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts.
By the time the project is completed in seven years, Houstonians will be able to enjoy much more extensive stretches of connected greenway as well as a continuous line of all-weather trail along its major bayous. In total, Bayou Greenways 2020 will establish 1,500 acres of new parkland parcels and 77 miles of new, thoughtfully designed, all-weather trails and trail-related amenities. Those trails will connect all existing and new parkland along the bayous to each other. They will also be accessible from transit facilities, existing sidewalks, existing bike lanes and existing trails.
Our bayous reflect Houston diversity and crisscross the entire region. They include Brays Bayou, Buffalo Bayou, Greens Bayou, Halls Bayou, Hunting Bayou and White Oak Bayou. In addition, Clear Creek and the San Jacinto River will be connected through this project. Bayou Greenways 2020 will be completed in multiple phases and will touch every council district.
The Bayou Greenways 2020 project has been made possible by funds from a unique public-private partnership totaling $215 million. The Houston Parks Board has recommitted to matching the public funding – dollar for dollar – by providing $105 million in private funding to match the bond funding. Thus far, the Houston Parks Board has raised a total of $20,000,000 as part of this private commitment, paving the way for over $20 million worth of work within the next year.
Soon enough, you’ll begin seeing new trail connections and paths throughout the city. I can’t wait to explore the entire expanse once it is complete and I know we are all eager to enjoy the final result of this remarkable project. Thank you for helping to make it all possible.