Four soon-to-be constructed trails and one existing trail in the city of Sugar Land will be getting names soon, as the city moves one step closer to a major expansion of its trail network. At a Sept. 21 City Council meeting, three council members volunteered to be on the Trail Naming Council Facilities Task Force—Carol McCutcheon, Suzanne Whatley, and Naushad Kermally.

“We thought ‘Ditch H’ deserved a better name, that’s all,” Council Member Suzanne Whatley said.

Per Sugar Land City Council policy, the task force will be responsible for naming five trails—Ditch A-22 Trails, the First Colony Trail, the Ditch H Trail, Gannoway Lake Area Trails and the New Territory Trail.

At a Sept. 7 City Council meeting, officials unanimously approved funding agreements with Fort Bend County for the Ditch H trail and the First Colony Trail—both of which are currently being designed.

The First Colony Trail and Ditch H Trail projects were included in the voter-approved 2020 Fort Bend County Parks Bond, which authorized $38.4 million in funding for parks and trail projects. The bond allocated $3.17 million towards Ditch H and $1.49 million for First Colony—after the 1% consultant fee that was applied to all 2020 Fort Bend County Parks Bond projects.

“I'm really excited about both of these projects and I appreciate our partnership with Fort Bend County on this,” Council Member McCutcheon said.

The Ditch H project is expected to cost $7.2 million, with about $4 million coming from the city of Sugar Land’s balance left from the city’s 2013 parks bond, according to city documents. The First Colony project is predicted to have a price tag of $2.6 million. That project has about $1.3 million in funds remaining from the 2013 Parks Bond, which will be used with county funds to facilitate the design and construction.

According to the September meeting, the First Colony Trail will provide trail connections within the First Colony area and to the Town Center Regional Activity Center. The 10-foot-wide trail will connect to Lexington Boulevard and Austin Parkway, and it will include a crossing underneath Sweetwater Boulevard. It will also have four new pedestrian bridges. City officials anticipate the construction for the trail will go out to bid later this year.

The Ditch H Trail will form a "regionally-significant pathway" for both pedestrians and bicyclists, according to city documents. The first phase of the trail will consist of 3.5 miles and run along the west side of Ditch H, connecting from Imperial Park to Lexington Boulevard, just north of the Smart Financial Centre. When finished, it will provide a north-south connection across most of Sugar Land. The second phase will consist of 1.5 miles of trail along Lexington Boulevard, and it will connect to the Town Center pedestrian improvements and the First Colony Trail on Austin Parkway. The 10-foot-wide Ditch H Trail will be about 5 miles long when complete.

Both trails were described as "core components of Sugar Land’s trail network" and key parts of its efforts to improve bicycle and pedestrian connectivity. The other trails included in the naming process are the Ditch A-22 Trails, which already exist, and the Gannoway Lake Area Trails and New Territory Trail—both of which were included in the voter-approved 2020 Fort Bend County Parks Bond and will begin construction after the First Colony Trail and Ditch H Trails are complete.

Ditch A-22 Trails refers to the existing trails in the Sugar Mill area along Ditch A-22. This 2.75-mile trail system lies entirely within District 1 and was selected as a pilot area for installing Sugar Land’s new trail wayfinding signs.

Gannoway Lake Area Trails—also located entirely within District 1—would consist of about 1.25 miles of trails, connecting from Voss Road through Gannoway Park, with a connection to Cullinan Park across Hwy. 6. The 1.25-mile New Territory Trail in District 2 would connect from the future Ditch H Trail through the Telfair area to Homeward Way in New Territory.

The task force will hold bi-weekly meetings to establish potential names for the trails, according to Cindy Dees, Sugar Land’s director of public and government affairs, during the Sept. 21 meeting. The three-person group will hold its kick-off meeting Oct. 10 and then review the naming process plan with the parks and recreation board at a November meeting, according to the anticipated timeline shared in a presentation at the September meeting.

Mayor Joe Zimmerman said he cannot wait to see what the task force comes up with.

In November and December, the task force will execute their naming plan and then will hold an early-December workshop of proposed names. City officials aim to get the trails named by Dec. 21.