- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - Houston’s City Council has taken another step toward making 150 miles of hiking and biking trails a reality along the city’s nine waterways.

The Bayou Greenways 2020 initiative advanced Wednesday as the council approved $19 million for the next phase of trails in north Houston, clearing the way for land purchases. Officials say they’ll only use eminent domain for the project when a tract’s legal ownership is murky or when owners demand unreasonably high prices.

The initiative is a $220 million effort that’s funded with $100 million in voter-approved bonds and more than $120 million raised by the Houston Parks Board.

Mayor Annise Parker calls it one of the most exciting projects she’s worked on since becoming mayor, the Houston Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1IN58tQ ) reported.

“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.”

Bayou Greenways’ construction progress has been modest thus far with only about 3.5 miles of trail being built, but the pace is expected to increase sharply, according to Catherine Butsch with the parks board.

“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.”


Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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