Infrastructure

New 3-mile hike-and-bike trail for Southeast Houston opens, part of larger connector project

The new trail is part of a bigger project to connect the city’s major bayous.

Sims Bayou ribbon cutting
Patricia Ortiz/Houston Public Media
Officials hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for Sims Bayou.

Houston's Parks Board and the Parks and Recreation Department hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new 3-mile hike-and-bike trail in Southeast Houston.

The Sims Bayou Connector is part of a bigger project to connect Houston's major bayous. Justin Schultz with the Houston Parks Board said the project promotes health and wellness.

"Places that people may want to walk or bike to, which really is just opening up opportunities. So those could be economic opportunities, greater health opportunities, and frankly, just opportunities to have fun," he said.

Schultz said these connectors will help residents travel to different parts of the city without having to get on a roadway.

Texas State Representative Jolanda Jones said these connectors are particularly important for those who can't afford a car or don't have money for gas.

"There are a lot of people, especially in historically disadvantaged areas that don't have cars, or if they do have cars, they don't have money for gas, because gas is out of control," she said. "And with traffic, it's just faster."

A Forbes report from earlier this year rates Houston as having the fourth hardest commute in the United States. Commissioner Rodney Ellis said when advocating for bike lanes and walking trails, connectivity is important.

"Community engagement is so important. Do you think anybody did community engagement out there in Katy and said, ‘Hey? How would you like to have the widest freeway in North America in your neighborhood?'" he said. "… Of course they didn't. They built it, and the cars came. And now it takes you even longer to get from Katy than it did before they put the widest freeway in North America there."

The Sims Bayou is one of nine bayous that are part of the Bayou Greenways project, and runs through three different parks in Southeast Houston. Other bayous that are part of the project include Brays Bayou, White Oak, and the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.

Jones said the renovations also provide a safe place for local youth to play.

"Law Park used to be a haven for crime. They literally dumped dead bodies here,” Jones said. “I know it because I helped them get lights. Kids could not play here. [The new connector] is playable.”