Imagine a six-mile-long hike-and-bike trail running straight through the heart of Spring Branch, seamlessly trailconnecting the Addicks Reservoir on the far western edge of the district to the White Oak Bayou trails to the east. That’s the dream behind the Centerpoint Trail, which will be built along the existing electrical easements and is a key component of the Spring Branch Management District’s Comprehensive Plan.

“The easement bisects the district at the midpoint, so it’s centrally located,” said James Vick of SWA Group, the firm that designed Buffalo Bayou Park and is contracting with the District to plan the Centerpoint Trail. “People would be able to live in Spring Branch and bike to work in the Energy Corridor. And the other huge benefit is that there are a ton of schools located along the trail, so if we can get connectivity from the neighborhoods, it means that people who live here and go to school can use the trail.”

Discussions are underway between the District and the City of Houston about incorporating the Centerpoint Trail into Bayou Greenways 2020, an ambitious public-private initiative aiming to create a network of 150 miles of trails linking all parts of Houston. When the project is complete, about 60 percent of Houstonians will live within 1.5 miles of a trail. Vick explained that once the Centerpoint Trail is connected to the Bayou Greenways network, Spring Branch residents will be able to easily walk or bike almost anywhere in the city.

“We’ve actually gotten calls from cyclists who commute to the Energy Corridor from the east side of the district, and they’ve heard about this plan,” Vick said. “Right now they’re using city streets to get to work, often with no bike lanes, so there is a lot of enthusiasm for the trail.”

proposed route of the trail

proposed route of the trail

Patricia Maddox, chairwoman of the District’s board of directors, said the trail would make the district safer for drivers and cyclists alike. “Mixing bikes and cars I think is dangerous to all parties,” she said. “So if you can segregate them, that’s a lot safer. And of course you’ll be able to walk and jog the trail as well.”

Maddox also noted that the trail will become a major amenity for the district, further boosting home values. “A recent study found that the median price of a home in Spring Branch increased $100,000 over the past five years, from $156,000 to $256,000 in our management district. The Centerpoint Trail, along with the reimagining of the Long Point Corridor, the drainage and infrastructure improvements, and other elements of the Comprehensive Plan, are just going to accelerate that trend.”

[SBMD.org will be running stories about the Long Point Corridor and the drainage improvement plan in the coming weeks.]

Construction on the first phase of the Centerpoint Trail could begin in the next two to three years, with the entire trail completed within five, if everything goes according to plan. One of the toughest design challenges is how to circumvent Beltway 8, which intersects the electrical easement at the eastern edge of the district, forcing bicyclists and pedestrians to make a detour. The best solution, everyone agrees, would be a pedestrian bridge over the Beltway, like the bridges over Buffalo Bayou.

Currently there aren’t enough pedestrians trying to cross the Beltway to justify the cost of a bridge, but that could well change after the Centerpoint Trail opens, Vick predicted:

“I’d be surprised if we didn’t have something within 10 years.”