Sugar Land, Texas – Sugar Land City Council approved a design contract for a voter-approved trail project that will run adjacent to Ditch H.
After working closely with residents, city staff planned a path for the 5 mile trail that will include two pedestrian bridges, connect to existing trails adjacent to Clements High School along Sweetwater Boulevard and run adjacent to Ditch H. The north-south section is planned to cross under Meadowcroft, Lexington Boulevard, State Highway 6 and U.S. Highway 59.
Public engagement will continue as the design process progresses. This will include a public input meeting prior to the start of the design process. Project managers will work with elected homeowner association representatives to schedule a series of opportunities throughout the design process to ensure residents living along the trail have a chance to provide input.
The exhaustive, comprehensive “design-phase engagement” initiative is consistent with a trend among governmental agencies. It is intended to capture feedback from existing and new homeowners during the lengthy design process, providing multiple efforts to capture important feedback from anyone unable to make themselves available during earlier opportunities.
All citizen input will be provided to City Council for their consideration prior to the approval of the trail’s design and the beginning of construction. The design process for the Ditch H trail is expected to take 10 months. The trail is part of a comprehensive citywide Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan.
Voters approved bonds totaling $31.5 million on Nov. 5, 2013, to fund two parks projects. The approved propositions included development of 128 acres of new parkland along the Brazos River with an adjacent festival site and a connecting network of nearly 10 miles of hike and bike trails and bridges.
The parkland and the adjacent festival site opened earlier this year. The Ditch H project is the last remaining trail project approved by voters. The Imperial Connector Trails project was completed in 2016, and the First Colony Trails project has been ongoing, as City staff works closely with residents to ensure the trail accommodates community needs and interests.
Trails are identified as a high priority in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Masterplan as well as the City’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan. The main goal is to plan a connected system of off-street and on-street routes for pedestrians and bicyclists for exercise, recreation and mobility. The plan focuses on connecting neighborhoods to parks, schools, libraries, shopping areas, other neighborhoods and destination centers. An example of the network includes recently completed pathways and a pedestrian crossing in the Sugar Land Town Square area.
The plan takes advantage of the natural opportunities in the City created by drainage and flood-control devices. Their wide fringe areas, originally intended to provide space for extra flooding capacity, create unique opportunities for off-street trails.
Safe routes along roadways, drainage channels, levees and easements were identified throughout the City. Many neighborhoods, new and established, have a well used network of sidewalks; however, extra attention during the planning process focused on the protection of areas where views into homes or close proximity to fences threatened homeowner privacy. Along with these on-street routes, many residents walk and run on off-street corridors, such as areas near levees and drainage easements.
The plan prioritizes a total of 26 miles of key trails that will create a strong citywide system.