By Betsy Dolan
The City of Sugar Land is envisioning a day in the not so distant future when its residents are able to walk to work or ride their bikes along a series of planned, interconnected trails linking portions of the city together as well as connecting neighborhoods to parks, schools, libraries, shopping areas and other key destinations.
The city is currently reviewing nominations for a Pedestrian and Bicycle Task Force which would help guide the project and represent the community’s feedback as the plan moves forward.
In 2007, Sugar Land approved the Hike and Bike Trails Master Plan which called for 150-miles of inter-connected routes, built in phases, for pedestrians and bicyclists to use for exercise, recreation and mobility. The Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan project will amend the 2007 version by incorporating a broader focus on mobility and non-recreational uses and may include new sidewalks, trail connections, bike facilities and enhanced crossings.
“The specifics of the Hike and Bike Master Plan are more focused on recreational trips and the Mobility Plan approved last year was more a general direction of mobility for the city”, said Cathy Halka, City of Sugar Land Planner. “So this is looking more specifically at the route system”.
The 10-member task force, which is being modeled after last year’s Mobility Task Force, would be a diverse group, representing a variety of ages, and geographical areas but sharing a common interest in walking and biking. In addition to fielding input from the public, the group would also be responsible for creating a fully supported plan. The task force, said Halka, will also be determining the main destination centers in the city, identifying the gaps in the routes between those destinations and developing concepts for crossing barriers like US 59, State Highway 6, US 90A and the Brazos River.
“They’ll identify enhancement projects in locations where it makes sense and where it is safe for all users, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists”, Halka said.
Public feedback on the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan will be generated through public meetings and hearings, an online survey, open houses and through various neighborhood groups. The task force will use that information to develop a plan that generates enthusiasm from the entire city.
“We really want to have community consensus on all of the recommendations that come out of this plan,” said Halka.
The city hopes the task force can meet four to five times with their first meeting held in June.