Built to flood: Houston's Buffalo Bayou Walk
As the city of Jacksonville and Groundwork Jacksonville embark on a long dreamed plan to build greenways along McCoys and Hogans creeks, Houston's Buffalo Bayou Park Trail is a project worth paying close attention to.
Built to flood, it has become one of the most popular urban trail systems in the American South.
In Jacksonville, the vision to retrofit the flood-prone McCoys Creek into a linear greenway connecting several Westside neighborhoods with downtown and the Northbank Riverwalk is an ambitious one. A major part of the proposed Emerald Trail system being spearheaded by Groundwork Jacksonville, the project has the potential to be a catalyst for social and economic development in Jacksonville, from encouraging healthy lifestyles and promoting public safety, to spurring economic growth and neighborhood revitalization.
To bring this system to life, Groundwork Jacksonville teamed up with the PATH Foundation and landscape architect KAIZEN Collaborative to develop a master plan earlier this year. In addition, the mayor’s office has allocated $62.45 million in the Capital Improvement Plan to restore and turn the Westside’s flood-prone McCoys Creek into an urban greenway. This includes $13.05 million in the FY 18-19 budget for drainage, flood control, creek restoration, ash remediation, recreational trail, and road and bridge improvements between Hollybrook Park and Downtown Jacksonville.
While Atlanta’s Beltline has generated local media coverage regarding the economic benefits an urban trail system can bring to Jacksonville, due to its PATH Foundation affiliation, Houston’s Buffalo Bayou Trail is a great recent civic success story that is highly applicable to Jacksonville’s flood-prone waterways and coastal climate.
Buffalo Bayou is a slow-moving river that starts just west of Katy, Texas and flows over fifty miles east through the port of Houston, the Houston ship channel and into Galveston Bay. Serving as a major artery for a network of waterways flowing into Galveston Bay, the city of Houston was founded on the banks of Buffalo Bayou in 1836. Its heavily urbanized watershed is also known for being flood prone similar to Jacksonville’s McCoys Creek.
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