Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s ambitious Shepherd to Sabine project is making its way up Memorial Drive, as construction crews replace the broken asphalt of Sandy Reed Trail with a 10-foot-wide span of fresh concrete near Studemont.
In the planning stages for the better part of a decade, this massive re-envisioning of Buffalo Bayou Park made a big splash in March with the completion of the intriguingly-forked Rosemont Bridge and in February with the installation of Jaume Plensa’s “Tolerance” sculptures.
In the next three years, the Buffalo Bayou Partnership will complete a series of projects aimed at improving the public greenspace along two miles of the bayou just west of Downtown.
"We plan to enhance infrastructure throughout the park to increase public access into this amazingly diverse ecosystem within the city,” said Trudi Smith, director of public relations for the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.
"Additional efforts are geared to revitalize the bayou itself. To take the area back to its natural state."
Thanks to a $30 million gift from the Kinder Foundation — plus another $20 million from a partnership of local public and private organizations — the planned Shepherd to Sabine project should reach completion by 2015. A $5 million contribution from the Harris County Flood Control Department will continue a number of ongoing bayou restoration efforts.
Here’s a quick overview of what to expect by 2015. (Click for a detailed map.)
"We plan to enhance infrastructure throughout the park to increase public access into this amazingly diverse ecosystem within the city,” Trudi Smith said.
Orchestrated by the City of Houston with the Texas Department of Transportation, the improved Sandy Reed Trail — to be completed this spring — will form a main artery of circulation throughout the park. A network of smaller footpaths will weave in and around the bayou itself, providing a comfortable alternative for walkers and joggers free of bicycle traffic.
In addition to the newly completed Rosemont Bridge, two bridges — one behind the Police Officers' Memorial and another at Jackson Hill — will be constructed to join parkland on either side of the bayou. At the west end of the park, a new pedestrian extension will be added to the current narrow public walkway at the Shepherd Drive bridge.
The Lunar Cycle Lighting installation by Stephen Korns and L’Observatoire will be extended westward from the I-45 overpass to Shepherd, breaking momentarily (or perhaps changing color) at the Waugh Drive Bat Colony. Once the downtown portions are completed, the lighting project will be visible from space, according to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.
The area beneath Memorial Drive by Glenwood Cemetery is also planned for new environmental art installations, along with improved access to existing monumental works like Henry Moore’s Large Spindle Piece and Jesus Morales’ Police Memorial.
Water Music Place
On the site of an 85-year-old concrete reservoir next to the popular Joe Jamail Skateboard Park, a small collection of buildings and public spaces will form one of Buffalo Bayou Park’s new main points of entry. Called Water Music Place, the area will feature a small outdoor performance amphitheater, concessions buildings and a children’s playground.
Lakes and ponds
A lake that vanished during the 1970s after its dam was damaged will be restored to create Lost Lake Center at the park’s west side. Paddleboat rentals, picnic shelters and a possible cafe are planned for the new area.
The not-quite-legal dog park at Studemont will get official city recognition with a new fence and areas for both small and large dogs. While fencing will keep animals away from the fragile bayou ecosystem, a new pond will be constructed for dedicated aquatic canine frolicking.