Houston Bayou Greenways is an approximately $480 million project that will be tackled by many public and private stakeholders in several phases over ten to fifteen years. When complete, the greater Houston area will have added 800 acres of new and equitably distributed green spaces that can also serve the function of flood control and storm water quality enhancement. We will have also completed 300 miles of continuous all-weather hike and bike trails that will meander through those greenways — an amenity unparalleled in the nation.
Although many projects are already underway and funded with both private and public dollars, completing the project will require additional private and public funding targeted for park, environmental, flood control, water quality, health, air quality, and economic development.
Houston Bayou Greenways addresses a significant challenge the greater Houston area has with its park system. The greater Houston area needs more equitably distributed parkland and recreation amenities. Luckily, our City is uniquely positioned with numerous bayous that criss-cross its urban fabric connecting diverse neighborhoods and representing significant ecological capital. Another challenge is our propensity for flooding. Adjacent properties would greatly benefit from porous land along the bayou corridors for flood control. Therefore, developing connected green corridors with hike and bike trails along the bayous brings a smart and sustainable resolution to alleviate our green space and flooding challenges.
There are numerous other benefits associated with utilizing our bayou corridors for green space and recreation:
· Reduced doctor visits due to increased access to recreation opportunities;
· Increase in use of alternative transportation for commuting along the hike and bike trails;
· Increase in property values along the corridor resulting in increased revenue to the city;
· Increased flood prevention due to the opportunity for wet-bottom detention areas in the newly created green spaces;
· Increased water quality due to the simple plantings located strategically along the bayous, the wet-bottom detention ponds, and reduced runoff;
· Increased air quality due to increased CO2 sequestration by newly planted trees, and use of trails for alternative transportation; and
· Change in Houston’s image to attract the best and brightest to our city.