Plans to develop more hiking, biking trails

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HOUSTON - A bipartisan coalition of legislators has filed plans to spur development of more hike and bike trails in Houston.

Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Dan Patrick (R-Houston) filed legislation Monday with the Senate, and State Representatives Jim Murphy (R-Houston), Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) and Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) have filed legislation with the House.

The legislation, SB 633 and HB 200, will help create trails Houston voters approved last November in a quicker, more efficient, and cost effective way.

If passed, SB 633/HB 200 would provide up to 135 miles of connected trails in Houston. The legislation allows the City of Houston and area cities to enter into recreational use agreements with electric utility providers to create new hike and bike trails on right-of-way land owned or leased by utilities, at virtually no cost for the land.  In exchange, the utilities will receive limited liability protection arising from the recreational use of their property.

The bill only applies to Harris County.  "The people of Houston have said loud and clear that they want more hike and bike trails," said Ellis.  "But it has become very difficult to acquire the land in urban areas like Houston that is suitable for development of trails.  This legislation is a unique and innovative compromise solution to develop new trails without undue delays and excess cost."

"We've worked for several sessions to develop this solution for these trails.  These bills provide significant savings to tax payers, improve transportation infrastructure, and expand recreational opportunities," said Murphy.  "They also protect our trail users and those civic minded companies who provide their property."

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