COLUMBIA TAP HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL REOPENS
The Columbia Tap Trail, located in southeast Houston near downtown, has reopened. A portion of the four-mile hike and bike path was closed earlier this year to accommodate construction of the Southeast Line of METRO’s expanded light-rail system.
METRO’s Southeast light-rail line is currently under construction and expected to open in 2014. The Southeast Line (or Purple Line) will run along Capitol and Rusk in downtown Houston and continue southeast via Scott, Wheeler, MLK and Griggs ending at Palm Center. The approximately six-mile rail line will connect downtown with local universities including Texas Southern University (TSU) and the University of Houston (UH).
METRO has made numerous updates to the Columbia Tap Trail, including an irrigation system, sod and plantings. In 2012, an installation of trees will be made to further enhance the trail’s natural setting. During development of the light-rail adjacent to the Columbia Tap Trail, METRO maintained a detour.
“METRO and the city of Houston worked in cooperation during the construction phase of this segment in order to speed the overall process and get the trail reopened to the public as soon as possible,” said Jose Enriquez, southeast program director at METRO. “The community can once again enjoy the trail’s access, natural beauty and rich history.”
The Columbia Tap Trail is a “Rails-to-Trails” conversion project made up of four miles of a 10-foot wide, concrete, multi-use hike and bike trail along the old Columbia Tap railroad. The trail was opened to the public in 2009 and is a popular cyclist destination that winds its way through Houston’s Third Ward, the city’s oldest and most historic African-American community.
“It is essential that all large-scale transportation improvement projects address pedestrian-bicyclist safety and mobility, not only in the design of the project, but during its construction as well. We applaud METRO for developing and maintaining the bicyclist detour while expediting the completion of this segment of the rail project and restoring this important segment of the Columbia Tap Trail,” said Dan Raine, Bicyclist - Pedestrian Coordinator, Public Works and Engineering Department, city of Houston.
About the Columbia Tap Trail
The Columbia Tap Trail connects the neighborhoods along the tap with the bikeway network's existing designated Polk bike lanes, McGowan and Alabama bike routes, Brays Bayou Trail, and the Dixie bike route which includes a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across Highway 288. These bikeways add east and west connections to the greenway adding to its transportation benefits. The Columbia Tap Trail extends from Dixie Drive past Polk Street and into downtown, along the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way creating a greenway corridor in the Third Ward and downtown area. It is bound by Dowling Street on the west and Scott Street on the east.
GOMETRORail.org is a website that provides helpful information about METRORail’s expansion project in Houston. Visitors can find a full list of businesses along the rail lines that are under construction. With 40,000 passengers per day, Houston’s METRORail Red Line is the nation’s most heavily traveled light rail line, based on boardings per-track mile. There are three additional lines under construction and two more planned for the future.