A new pedestrian and biking trail was recently completed in Brownsville, TX that connects the historic neighborhoods of West Brownsville, Rio Viejo, and Downtown. The Belden Trail, once an abandoned rail line, is now part of the City’s growing network of walking and biking infrastructure. Named after one of the City's founders, Belden Street was converted to an extension of the West Rail Line, then abandoned to backyard alleys, and has now been reclaimed as 5,170 linear feet of accessible park. It is book-ended by Sunrise Rotary Park and Riverside Park and connects to three different schools. The neighborhoods that have direct access to the trail are diverse, but primarily low-income, with many families and elderly that rely on alternative forms of transportation.
Since the first patch of concrete was placed, the community began to provide the life and vibrancy to the trail that will ensure its success. Any evening in West Brownsville one will find families out together on this stretch of land, now lit and cared for, that they were afraid to walk through just six months ago. Both programmed and informal events continue to take place along the trail, including two bikes for tikes rides, social walks and rides, and art projects.
The project team consisted of: Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) - client bcWORKSHOP- community outreach and design Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) - construction
The land is owned by the City of Brownsville, and funded and developed by BCIC and a grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife. Other City departments contributed to the design and approval and investment process, including but not limited to a sidewalk accessibility improvement project around the trail and public transit routes in the neighborhood (BMetro) and increased street lighting (PUB).
bcWORKSHOP was involved for the past year in pre-design community engagement, design, and construction management, and participatory activities throughout the process. Even while under construction, and in full swing now, the community itself has initiated a number of events and engaged activities along the trail. bcWORKSHOP continues to participate, as a part of the neighborhood, in community-driven activities along the trail.