Thanks to CenterPoint, We'll Get Biking Trails and LED Streetlights

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We told you last week that a bike plan was on the way for Houston. Thanks to CenterPoint Energy, Houston cyclists have another win to celebrate.

Hiking and biking trails will be allowed along CenterPoint's utility ROWs (that's right-of-ways). According to a press release from the mayor's office, the ROWs will provide north-south connections to Houston's growing network of trails, most of which either run east and west or are planned to do so.

CenterPoint is giving Houston $1.5 million for trail construction.

The agreement comes after the passage of legislation that allows CenterPoint to grant recreational users access to corridors without increasing its liability for injuries.

Houston Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Turner told the Houston Chronicle the first trail affected by the deal will be a portion of Brays Bayou that crosses a transmission corridor on the University of Houston campus.

And that's not all CenterPoint and Houston are partnering up for. The energy company will convert approximately 165,000 Houston streetlights from high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor and metal halide to LEDs.

According to a statement the replacement project is the largest in the country, and will reduce streetlight energy usage by approximately 50 percent while saving more than $28 million over the life of the project.

"Our partnership with CenterPoint will reduce Houston's carbon footprint, increase the quality of outdoor lighting, improve connections in our burgeoning hike and bike trail system and improve the quality of life and safety of residents all while saving the City money," Mayor Annise Parker said. "These are big wins for Houston."

Los Angeles undertook a similar project in 2008, when it collaborated with the Clinton Climate Initiative to replace approximately 140,000 streetlights, as well as traffic signals at almost 4,400 intersections, with LEDs. The conversion finished in June 2013.

City staff consulted officials in Los Angeles, as well as those from in Las Vegas and Asheville, N.C. - other cities that have undergone conversion.

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