Under a canopy shielding them from the hot sun, Mayor Annise Parker joined other dignitaries at the end of the Heights Bike Trail. They were there to announce Houston the recipient of a $15 million dollar TIGER grant, short for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. She says the bikeway funding will connect three of Houston's most disadvantaged neighborhoods: Northside Village, Third and Fifth Ward, to employment centers that include downtown, midtown and the
"Connecting those trail segments gives us an opportunity for seamless transitions across the city of Houston. We have focused a lot on hike and bike trails that keep cars and bikes separate, and we'd like to see more of that. We've focused on our trail system and the inner-connections, because we have an asset in our city, which is a bio-system that touches every neighborhood in Houston."
TIGER funds will help connect bicycle and pedestrian transportation to local bus stops and rail stations.
This is Houston Congressman Gene Green:
"The first time my first term in Congress, we got money for rails for trails out through East End. It's part of ther system and this will tie it in. There's already been substantial investment of county, city, Buffalo Bayou Partnership, but also federal money, because we were able to get earmarks along the way. But this will tie it all together."
TIGER grants are highly sought after federal funds, and even though a half billion dollars went to projects across the country, Houston Parks Director Joe Turner says combining the bike trail network, and access to the transit system was crucial.
"We're moving people on bikeways, trail systems that are connecting to a Metro system. That was the focus of this, we called a bike-pedestrian connection to transit. And a lot of these trails cross Metro stops, or soon to be Metro stops. So, you can either ride and get on the train, or take the train and then go the other way. It's crucial how we move people around the city."
The TIGER grant will build almost 8 miles of on-street bike lanes, about 3 miles of sidewalks and 7.5 miles of off-street paths for cyclists and pedestrians to connect to transit services.
For a map, view the Houston Regional Bike/Ped Connections to Transit - Regional Map.