More new features are imagined for the center of Houston than just the new Green Loop highlighted in the just-released Plan Downtown proposal. There’s also a mysterious new Downtown island. Where did it come from?
It’s the result of digging the long-whispered North Canal Channel Bypass, a re-linking of White Oak and Buffalo Bayous north of Downtown. Existing bends and narrow banks along the 2 bayous just east of Main St. restrict the flow of stormwater during flooding events. According to reports, engineering studies have estimated that cutting a straighter diversion channel to bypass the oxbow could reduce flooding Downtown by 3.5 ft.
But digging a new canal while maintaining the existing path of the bayou would create an island out of the area just north of Commerce St. An imagined map of the area in Plan Downtown’s report (rotated so North is aimed down and to the right) shows what car and pedestrian bridges might link it to the mainland:
Drivers looking to travel north across Buffalo Bayou and out of Downtown could do so via the same 2 bridges they have access to now: on Fannin St. and San Jacinto. After crossing the bayou, those 2 roads would merge into an extended San Jacinto St. in the Plan Downtown plan, forming the only car route across the North Canal — before connecting to Fulton St. to the north.
METRO’s bus facility east of San Jacinto would have to be relocated; 2 pedestrian paths (one along the water shown in yellow, the other shown in orange in the map above) would cross the canal in its place. Both appear also to be part of the network of trails comprising the proposed Green Loop:
- Plan Downtown Final Report (PDF) [Plan Downtown]
- North Canal Bypass Channel [HCFCD]
- Cover: Flood relief project holds promise [Houston Chronicle]
- Master Plan for Buffalo Bayou and Beyond (PDF) [Plan Houston]
- Previously on Swamplot: A Roundabout First Look at the Green Loop, the Newest Idea for a Houston Ring Road Around Downtown
Images: Plan Downtown