TxDOT’s Alternate Vision for a Buffalo Bayou Canal and Accompanying Downtown Island

Remember that North Canal that showed up in Plan Downtown’s maps and drawing last year and included a island in Buffalo Bayou? Well, TxDOT’s latest schematics for its planned I-45 reroute include a bypass and island as well — but in an entirely different location. The highway agency’s map above — with west facing up — indicates a new waterway draining into Buffalo Bayou right underneath the section of I-45 it plans to build in place of a portion of the Houston Housing Authority’s Clayton Homes neighborhood. How the canal gets there is obscured, but a straight course northwest appears to shoot the gap between 2 planned detention ponds and cross under the existing section of 59 (shaded gray), before linking up with the bayou again east of Elysian St. Marooned on TxDOT’s version of the make-believe, bayou-banked island the canal would create: a few of the houses in Clayton Homes.

As TxDOT’s caption makes clear, it’d be up to someone else to actually build the waterway. Doing so wouldn’t preclude the previously proposed North Canal from being dug further upstream. Plan Downtown’s less technical map at top shows that waterway beginning at White Oak Bayou and emptying into a bend of Buffalo Bayou just west of Elysian. In doing so, its course creates an exclusive new landmass home to the Harris County jail.

Road map: TxDOT. Downtown map: Plan Downtown


6 Comment

  • The 2nd and 3rd images are rather busy and difficult to interpret at the scale presented. The 1st one looks like what I’ve seen before: one that creates our very own “Alcatraz”. I wish it could be more than that.

    Now, I’m going to tease our Dallas friends, but in a friendly way. I recall someone from there posting an opinion that the Calatrava-designed Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge “will be our Eiffel Tower”. So … in our own Houston way, we will get our own “Alcatraz”. I think there is some symbolism embedded in there that perhaps reflects the changes in the two cities pride and ambition over the last half century.

    I love my hometown of Houston, but it seems that it is no longer the “can-do” city that it used to claim to be.

  • This could be Houston’s own Ile de la Cité with the Harris county jail on the Rive Gauche and our own concrete cathedral above. The sidewalk cafes will be so romantic…

  • The proposed retention pond further southwest is in the exact location of the new, thriving tent city which has mostly relocated from near Tout Suite. I guess that’s one way to “take care” of that issue.

  • After scrutinizing the images awhile, this new canal appears to bypass the northernmost bend in the first image. It looks like they are trying to give the waters from White Oak Bayou a pretty straight shot through the downtown area. The problem is, when you speed up the waters, doesn’t that speed up the erosion? Might not be a good thing if you are hoping to have bayou-side parks and trails.

  • Mike said “The problem is, when you speed up the waters, doesn’t that speed up the erosion? ”

    …. not if you concrete-line the whole thing.

  • …and it’s not like other cities are sitting on their heels, passively waiting to see what the almighty Houston does in order to react accordingly. It’ll be a gruesome spectacle when reality hits this town like a ton of bricks. How ironic that the city with an ambition to ruin the world in the end could only ruin itself.