If you have information regarding the whereabouts of the cheery orange digging machine spotted yesterday morning dipping its tracks into a brimming Brays Bayou, a concerned reader would like to hear it — the shot above is his last sighting of the machine, taken from the Main St. bridge. “When I looked today, it was gone. Any idea what happened to it?” 24 hours, of course, is plenty of time for someone to have taken the excavator somewhere warm to dry off, so no reason to assume anything particularly unfortunate transpired; the photo was taken around 8:30, a little over an hour after the water had begun to recede from its early morning crest, according to the Harris County Flood Controlgauge readings at the Main St. bridge:
A mobile reader sends some fresh shots of not-quite-green-yet redone greenway along Brays Bayou, looking west from Buffalo Spdway. along S. Braeswood Blvd. The Harris County flood control folks have been wideningthis section of the channelized stream this fall as they work their way through the Project Brays checklist; the stretch seen above and below is about 2 miles downstream of some of those more submersion-prone areas of Meyerland near the Brays crossing under 610.
The new trail is a fair bit wider and smoother than the one it’s replacing — for some soggy comparison, here’s a view of the trail from around noon on Tax Day, just up past the next bend near where Ilona Ln. meets S. Braeswood:
A crane and 2 egrets were spotted on Brays Bayou just east of Main St. by a curious reader, along with the rising superstructure of the new Houston Community College Coleman College for Health Sciences building. The midrise, which will eventually connect to the other HCC buildings across Pressler St. via skybridge, should have 10 stories by the time the building opens (which, per HCC’s current plans, will be next August). The building is going up between the UT’s Sarofim Research Building and the large parking lot where the Shamrock Movie Theateronce stood, across Main St. from the currently-also-mostly-a-parking-lot Shamrock Hilton site where the new DeBakey High School campus is going up.
A few folks at the Halstead apartments surveyed the scene along Brays Bayou late yesterday morning, catching sight of all kinds of action in the water. The video above captures the part of the lonely journey of an unmoored porta-potty floating away from the site of the under-construction Starbucks on the former gas station corner next door; the trip was also also tracked from further upstairs in the complex, where another photographer was documenting the flood:
Here’s this morning’s view north across S. Braeswood Dr. between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft in Meyerland, where Brays Bayou has once again been feeling out some alternate route options. That’s the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue and the closed-for-the-day Shlenker School across the water on the northern bank, looking higher but not that much drier; current reaadings for the nearest upstream county gauge show nearly 8 inches of rain over the last 12 hours, with higher totals further west. That hasn’t stopped some folks from checking things out from close-up:
The Army Corps of Engineers is holding a public meeting amid this evening’s predicted thunderstorms to chat about the recently begun replacement work on the Addicks and Barker dams, which have each won the rare and highly distinguished label ‘extremely high risk’ through a combination of structural issues and close proximity to Houston. For those not planning to flood the Corps with questions and comments in person, there’s a somewhat-outdated online survey, as well as an online map of updates on the project’s progress. Work to replace the outlet structures of the dams began in February, and is expected to take about 4 years.
The 2 reservoirs, spread out across 26,000 acres on either side of the Katy Fwy. near Highway 6, starred in the Sierra Club’s 2011 lawsuit over the construction of Segment E of the Grand Parkway through the reservoirs’ catchment area. The club claimed development spurred by the road could send major additional runoff to the reservoirs, increasing the chance of dam failure, which Dave Fehling of Houston Public Mediareports “could do an estimated $60 billion dollars in damage to downtown Houston, to industries along the Houston Ship Channel, [and] even to the Texas Medical Center.” The judge didn’t stop construction of Segment E, but did order new studies on its potential flooding impacts.
White walls, glass walls, and mirrored walls provide ample opportunities for looking inward and outward from this 1958 house designed by Houston architect Arthur Steinberg. Overlooking Brays Bayou across Glen Arbor Dr., the home contains 3 bedrooms and 2 and a half bathrooms on 3,765 sq. ft. of pale polished concrete and marble floors. Mid-century minimalism comes with a $1.495-million price tag. CONTINUE READING THIS STORY
Reader Scot Luther, who claims to have witnessed “wrecks and several flat tires” on a gap in the bayou-side trail along the north side of Brays Bayou just across N. MacGregor Way from the eastern border of Hermann Park wonders why this portion of the several-year-old concrete trail was never completed. Here’s a photo of the scene — where more cautious bike riders regularly dismount for the muddy or bumpy path under the Almeda Rd. bridge. A few hundred ft. beyond the bridge, the trail picks up again on its way to Riverside Terrace.
A Swamplot reader sends in these pics of a reptilian Houstonian out for a morning swim in the recently replenished waters of Brays Bayou from shortly after 10 am today. Also included: a handy locator map, so any follow-on spotters of the same alligator might be able to compute distance traveled, and perhaps mileage and calories burned as well.
A reader sends in a report from the “spirited debate” at Monday night’s public forum at the E.B. Cape Center on Leeland St., covering proposed plans to convert the Gus Wortham Golf Course at Wayside Dr. and Lawndale St. in Houston’s East End, just north of Idylwood, into a new botanical garden: “Councilman Robert Gallegos, Mayor Parker, and many other politicians were there, as well as a standing room only crowd of those for the botanical garden (wielding the provided flowers), and for saving the golf course (fanning themselves with provided Gus Wortham fans). The crowd was encouraged to be quiet to keep things running smoothly, but this didn’t always happen, as many folks were pretty passionate about their opinions. Those wanting to save the golf course had at least double the presence of the garden folks, and were admittedly louder as things went on.”
Our correspondent, who claims to support renovating the existing golf course and putting a botanical garden elsewhere, notes that an earlier proposal in which the 150-acre site just west of Brays Bayou would have been shared by a 9-hole golf course and a new garden in the northern half has been scrapped. Houston Botanic Garden president Jeff Ross showed the latest “rough draft” of the proposed garden plan. Here’s a screen-shot photo:
. . . Well, at least as long as Brays Bayou is able to handle whatever rains come. Late last month, an excavator (pictured above) yanked out the last piece of a 3-year-old 6-ft.-by-6-ft. concrete panel used as a “restrictor” and meant to make sure rainwater that fell in West U stayed in West U for a good long time. The restrictor (shown in place blocking the right side of the drainage channel pictured at left) had been put in place by the Harris County Flood Control District after West U, working with the city of Southside Place and Metro, completed $8 million worth of drainage improvements in 2010 on the colorfully named Poor Farm Ditch, which drains along the east side of Edloe St. through much of West University and further south to Brays Bayou. Those improvements had been meant to solve West U’s frequent flooding problems. But without some place for the water to go, that solution for West U might have caused flooding elsewhere downstream. So the district placed the restrictor on Poor Farm Ditch on the south side of the Edloe St. bridge across Holcombe St. — until the city could somehow come up with 13.5 acre-ft. of flood detention to hold the runoff.
With flood improvements completed but the restrictor still causing water to back up on Poor Farm Ditch, West U flooded again in January 2012 after a hard rain.
So the city has agreed to hand over maintenance of all the new bayou trails ’n’ stuff to the Houston Parks Board — it was the one condition that the Kinder Foundation stipulated before it would agree to donate $50 million to the Bayou Greenways project. That donation became a done deal earlier today. This dough, says the Parks Board, is going to allow construction to begin before the end of 2014 on as many as 14 new sections of trail — including evenmorework along Brays Bayou in Mason Park in the East End, shown in this rendering from SWA Group.
Board members of Houston Botanic Garden, a nonprofit formed in 2002 that’s been looking to bring a big-time garden to the city ever since, have had their eyes on several properties, including the KBR site in the Fifth Ward. But it’s the 150 acres home to the 18-hole Gus Wortham Golf Course — the oldest in Texas — that they are after now. The course, which includes a driving range, is owned by the city, and Jeff Ross, president of the garden club, explains that the organization hopes to ink a “long-term lease” that would allow it to “repurpose the property,” much like the 55-acre VanDusen Botanical Garden had done with the old Shaughnessy Golf Club in Vancouver. Ross explains that this repurposing could mean reserving as many as 65 acres for a 9-hole course — which could be built from scratch or involve a kind of rejiggering of the existing holes — and setting up the gardens on the remaining 85-90 relatively hilly acres that roll here toward Brays Bayou.