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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

City

Bike path expansion to connect UH to Houston trails, ERP


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A bicycle and pedestrian path connecting UH to the Energy Research Park should be completed in November. | Justin Cross/The Cougar

Thousands of students, faculty and staff who park in the Energy Research Park, a branch of the University just an exit south down Interstate 45, will soon have new ways to travel between the parking destination and UH’s main campus.

A project bringing bicycle and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure to areas around Houston will connect UH to the ERP and nearly 300 miles of existing paths throughout the city.

The Brays Bayou section of the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit project will construct a 1.6 mile path connecting the path at MacGregor Park to the path beginning at Old Spanish Trail.

About 0.6 miles of the path constitute the connection between UH and ERP.

In addition to increasing safety for cyclists and pedestrians who currently travel this route, the path will connect commuters to five METRO bus stops and a METRORail station.

“The expansion of the trail will help the UH campus become more pedestrian-friendly by creating an alternative means to travel to campus from ERP if students are parking in the economy parking lots,” said Jason Trippier, director of properties for the UH System.

There are currently no safe pedestrian or bike paths available connecting the ERP to the rest of campus. Students and faculty parking at ERP, or needing to travel between UH and ERP, are currently limited to taking the University-provided shuttles.

“It is unknown if the new connection between the ERP and the UH campus will encourage parking at ERP, but it will provide an alternative way other than the UH shuttle to travel between the two campuses,” said Bob Browand, the director of Parking and Transportation Services.

Trippier said the completion of the Brays Bayou trails is anticipated in November.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Dinna Pineda, a religious studies freshman. “It’s another resource, so that’s good.”

Though Pineda said the new additions are a good move by the University, she said she will likely continue taking the shuttle due to convenience.

“This place always seems to be so disconnected from campus,” said Ric Rodrigues, who works in IT security at ERP. Rodriguez said he had previously only heard rumors about the project, but thought that it’s a great way to connect the campus with the park.

The Brays Bayou paths will use nearly $3.4 million of the Houston BPCT project’s $29.8 million budget. The project was made possible largely through a $17.2 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant, or TIGER, that the City of Houston requested in 2012.

Donations from Buffalo Bayou Partnership, the City of Houston, Houston Parks Board, Harris County Flood Control District, Downtown District, Greater East End Management District and UH made up the remaining 42 percent of the funding.

The University provided the land needed to connect UH to ERP, valued at $207,000, in addition to a $468,275 monetary contribution.

“Collectively, the TIGER trail projects will provide safe routes for pedestrian and bicyclists to public transit, schools, universities, employment centers, social and governmental services, retail and restaurants and entertainment and sporting venues,” Trippier said. “The University is always looking for environmentally friendly and sustainable ways to improve campus life.”

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