Southdown Bike Trail opens in Terrebonne Parish

The Southdown Bike Trail in Terrebonne Parish is officially open to the public.

The Southdown Trail System includes an off-road 1-mile and 2-mile trail alongside the drainage canal roads and levees, as well as a 5.5-mile on-road stretch along La. Highway 311 extending from South Hollywood Road to Civic Center and Valhi Boulevards.

According to Terrebonne Parish Zoning Administrator Chris Pulaski, the bike trail is part of the parish’s 2012 master plan update.

“From 2009 to 2012, we did hear time and time again that there was a demand for recreation opportunities,” Pulaski said. “Hunting and fishing is great, but not everyone has access to that. They wanted something that all families could enjoy, families with small children.”

The parish filed for state grant dollars in 2010. The Louisiana Office of State Parks’ recreational trails program awarded Terrebonne $100,000, a portion of which was spent on the Southdown Bike Trail.

“I definitely want to give them credit because they have been good to us,” Pulaski said of the Office of State Parks. “That is an annual grant that we anticipate applying for every year as long as that funding continues.”

With the parish’s 20 percent local match, the grant has a potential value of $120,000.

“With this bike trail, approximately $15,000 was in cash and $10,000 was in time services,” Pulaski said. “The state allows you to do that.”

Pulaski said more bike trails will be added in Terrebonne.

Because the initial trail wasn’t completed in 2012, the parish was denied funding to expand the bike system. As work got underway last year, the parish opted not to apply for additional grant money.

“We did apply in 2014 and, now that we know the procedure for those grants, I anticipate there won’t be as many delays,” Pulaski said.

According to Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet, the recreational projects are geared toward “improving quality of life.”

“I believe that two things really attract people to a community and that is infrastructure and quality-of-life items. We have a lot of things that we can be proud of, but we need more things like a skate park, which is coming and a sports complex, which is also coming.

“We need to try to make it better for the citizens of Terrebonne and for the people who are coming from the outside,” he said.

Claudet said the trail offers children and adults physical activity to help build healthier lifestyles.

“I was at an event this past weekend and they had this big group and their pots jambalaya, gumbo and crabs,” he said. “We are not going to give up the food, so why not increase our physical activity?”

One of the major benefits of the trail, according to Pulaski, is that local bike groups will have a place to host events.

“We have the Bayou Country Cyclists, Bayou Runners Association, Girls on the Run. You have all these groups out there doing a good thing,” Pulaski said. “That reinforces the governments commitment to living healthy. Obviously, the trails are not limited to those groups.”

The off-road pathways can be used for more than just bicycles. People can walk their dogs or run on the trail; it is not solely for recreational bike use. The only restriction is that motorized vehicles are prohibited from using the off-road trail.

Pulaski advises people use the trails at their own risk, wear safety gear and follow the rules.

Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet called the opening of Southdown Bike Trail the “fastest ribbon cutting in history” due to last week’s rain. Pictured from left are Linda Henderson, Councilwoman Beryl Amedee, Senior Planner Chris Pulaski, Councilman Russell “Red” Hornsby, Claudet and Gary Beeson, who is with Recreation Districts No. 2 and 3.