Last week, we decided to check out the improvements currently being done to Buffalo Bayou between Sabine Street and Shepherd Drive. This section of the bayou is a popular segment for paddlers who put in at Woodway Drive and take out at Allen's Landing in downtown. For the past few years, the construction on this segment, as well as the improvements to the boat launch at Woodway, have hindered our ability to get on the water and enjoy trips on the bayou.
Louis on the new pedestrian bridge at Shepherd Drive.
The good news is that the long-delayed construction of the new boat launch at Woodway is due to be completed in June (keep your fingers crossed!). Construction downstream near Taft Street, which had closed the bayou for a period of time last year, has also been completed, so the bayou will be open for paddling excursions soon.
Several features are being added to Buffalo Bayou Park that may enhance the overall experience for users of the green space. They may or may not add much to the paddling experience, though. But, we wanted to let you know about them anyway.
The sculpturing of the south bank of the bayou near Shepherd Drive will lay back the steepness of the former banks. Erosion control structures have been added to the bank to prevent the loss of the channel during periods of flood. The stabilization of the banks will help maintain a good flow during normal bayou levels.
Bank stabilization work as Linda Gorski looks on.
A new pedestrian bridge has been built across the bayou at Jackson Hill Street. This bridge picks up where the bridge across Memorial Drive ends. The two bridges allow pedestrians from the Washington Avenue neighborhood to hike into the bayou park without having to dodge traffic. The new bridge over Buffalo Bayou is a stylish, modern span that looks good while providing a better bayou crossing place than the small sidewalk on the Waugh Drive bridge.
Bridge over Buffalo Bayou at Jackson Hill.
From the point on the south bank where the bridge connects to the hiking path, it is only a short walk to Waugh Drive. There you will find an intriguing feature under construction. We were rather perplexed about the feature and had to ask a workman what it was all about. The narrow channel of concrete is the base of a tunnel that passes under the bat colony that lives in the Waugh Drive bridge. The bat tunnel will have a plexiglass dome so that people can walk under the bridge to view the bats which live in the crevasses between the bridge girders. The plexiglass will allow the bats to do their natural thing while leaving the spectators below high and dry, so to speak.
The bat tunnel at Waugh Drive is still under construction.
If you go west from the Jackson Hill bridge, you will see the renovation of Lost Lake. The Lost Lake site will restore a small pond to the landscape of the bayou banks. The site will also include a visitor center, a picnic pavilion, a boating concession and a parking area. Reportedly, there will be an access point to the bayou near this area. The visitor center sketch shows how this concession building will look when it is opened in mid-2015. Right now, the only things visible are the empty lake bed and the concrete columns of the visitor center.
Lost Lake under construction.
Lost Lake concept sketch.
These enhancements to Buffalo Bayou Park will certainly make it possible for many people to enjoy the urban green space that the bayou park provides. We hope that some of the improvements will also help the paddling community as well.