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Buffalo Bayou Master Plan


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Most might disagree 😂, but with all the work thats going on around Buffalo Bayou, it's starting to look like a LITTLE like the Colorado River in Downtown Austin. I'm loving the work the city is doing to expand the little nature we have with Buffalo Bayou and Memorial park. It was clearly a hidden gem before the city started renovating buffalo bayou and all the developments started sprouting up around Allen parkway. Imagine once the east section of Buffalo Bayou is complete we get a similar revitalization of the east side to essentially mimic Allen parkway! If anything, the east side of buffalo bayou is actually nicer geographically since the water is deeper/ wider; mimicking a river. Look at buffalo bayou's huge body of water at east 610. Just picture this area; trees, landscape, and developments like RH replacing the ugly warehouses, the city starts doing boat tours, etc. Why did we as a city/ state even allow all these UGLY warehouses/ ports to open SO CLOSE to the inner city? Could they not have limited them to the bay? This area could have potentially looked like 610 and memorial but NICER.  Nonetheless, this is my absolute favorite project in Houston and hopefully they continue to expand and eventually take over the entire buffalo bayou! 1431801578_ScreenShot2021-11-17at10_39_22AM.png.21d88a8d919138f6a35bb33c38b5930d.png

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3 hours ago, Amlaham said:

Most might disagree 😂, but with all the work thats going on around Buffalo Bayou, it's starting to look like a LITTLE like the Colorado River in Downtown Austin. I'm loving the work the city is doing to expand the little nature we have with Buffalo Bayou and Memorial park. It was clearly a hidden gem before the city started renovating buffalo bayou and all the developments started sprouting up around Allen parkway. Imagine once the east section of Buffalo Bayou is complete we get a similar revitalization of the east side to essentially mimic Allen parkway! If anything, the east side of buffalo bayou is actually nicer geographically since the water is deeper/ wider; mimicking a river. Look at buffalo bayou's huge body of water at east 610. Just picture this area; trees, landscape, and developments like RH replacing the ugly warehouses, the city starts doing boat tours, etc. Why did we as a city/ state even allow all these UGLY warehouses/ ports to open SO CLOSE to the inner city? Could they not have limited them to the bay? This area could have potentially looked like 610 and memorial but NICER.  Nonetheless, this is my absolute favorite project in Houston and hopefully they continue to expand and eventually take over the entire buffalo bayou! 1431801578_ScreenShot2021-11-17at10_39_22AM.png.21d88a8d919138f6a35bb33c38b5930d.png

Worth noting that the Colorado River in downtown Austin was a pretty unimpressive stream until a Houston company built a series of dams and created the lakes you see there now. As to the ports/warehouses in Houston, the city's early residents wanted a deep water port downtown and did their best to make it happen. It was the ticket to "world class" city status. They were only able to dig the ship channel so far, however.

 

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3 hours ago, Amlaham said:

Just picture this area; trees, landscape, and developments like RH replacing the ugly warehouses, the city starts doing boat tours, etc. 

Yeah, good luck replacing those warehouses, lol. Those are worth more money than you could ever make of residential housing. Not to mention that, as @Naviguessorcorrectly points out, that right there is the lifeblood of the city. No port, no Houston.

Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but not that much.

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15 hours ago, tangledwoods said:

FWIW you can pretty much say everything west of lockwood Dr (right at Turkey Bend) is ripe for conversion and urbanization but it will take time.  Everything east of there will remain the world of industry for the foreseeable future. 

Hell we still have some warehouses along washington ave / sawyer heights area.  

yup, this is what I was going to say, Turkey Bend is pretty much the farthest east that any beautification can/will go in the short to mid term.

some day, the Buffalo Bayou master plan may even get as far as Wayside.

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33 minutes ago, BEES?! said:

I really like in that picture, you can see all of our skylines together-they don’t merge perfectly, but they form a continuous line that looks so cool. It looks like a huuuge megalopolis! 

Pretty much what we are.  I drive that way often to avoid the mess of I-45, and always want to stop and look, but the traffic is pretty rough going particularly with the massive increase in containers moving around!   From the bridge - for folks who’ve never been - the skylines are closer than what the picture(s) depict.

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On 11/17/2021 at 11:22 AM, Naviguessor said:

Amlaham - The city is here because of the Port and the huge amount of revenue that it brings to the City and State.  Not going anywhere, anytime soon.   

Plus, that industrial stuff has been there for well over 100 years in one form or another. Most of it is not going anywhere.

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On 11/17/2021 at 11:22 AM, Naviguessor said:

Amlaham - The city is here because of the Port and the huge amount of revenue that it brings to the City and State.  Not going anywhere, anytime soon.   

Thank you for bringing reason to this forum, people seem to fantasize that we can all just live off cute coffee shops or something lol..

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Alright, now you guys are over doing it..... no one said the port needs to be razed down and replaced with cute coffee shops "lol."  @tangledwoods and @samagon understood exactly where I was coming from with my statement. @iah77 you're 11 posts late and provided nothing but a corny and childish statement. For you to say me or anyone else on HAIF think "we all just live off cute coffee shops or something lol," is a subtle way of calling someone stupid/naive. Try not to act conceded as if you know more than anyone else on this forum. It's really not hard to act like an adult and be respectful.

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On 11/19/2021 at 12:13 PM, arche_757 said:

Pretty much what we are.  I drive that way often to avoid the mess of I-45, and always want to stop and look, but the traffic is pretty rough going particularly with the massive increase in containers moving around!   From the bridge - for folks who’ve never been - the skylines are closer than what the picture(s) depict.

I've had that desire over the years also. Every time I've been tempted to stop in the breakdown lane for a second just to get a peek, my better judgement takes back over. Oh well.

Completely fantasyland, but it could be an interesting concept for an observation tower, IMO. In the foreground you'd have the inner workings of the port, and the skylines in the back of course.

As for boat tours - there are already some that traverse different portions of the Bayou. BBP has (seasonal?) ones that focus on different interests. The Port of Houston Authority has had a long running boat tour as well, though that's been temporarily suspended due to Covid.

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On 11/20/2021 at 8:11 AM, iah77 said:

Thank you for bringing reason to this forum, people seem to fantasize that we can all just live off cute coffee shops or something lol..

those cute coffee shops have infrastructure backing them up.

just on the coffee supply chain, you need a roaster, that roaster needs equipment, and beans.

 - did you know that at one time, the port of Houston was the largest coffee importer in the USA? - 

anyway, there's a huge industry just around coffee, and then with those cute coffee shops, you need milk, sugar, syrups and sauces (if you want to let people have their pumpkin spice), pastries, paper products, then there's retail, board games, or other various things for sale.

each of those items requires a supply chain, various different pieces of that require a specialty machine to make the magic.

cute coffee shops can't sustain a city the size of Houston, but the coffee industry is huge, and is a driver in the Houston economy.

Edited by samagon
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just received this email from BBTRS@usace.army.mil

Quote

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District (USACE), and the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) are pleased to announce a new path forward for the Buffalo Bayou and Tributaries Resiliency Study.  Following the release of an Interim Report in October 2020, substantial public comment, and extensive coordination between USACE and HCFCD, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works has approved a schedule extension and budget increase for the study.  Additional federal funds, in the amount of $1.8M, paired with engineering technical services to be provided by HCFCD using $3.367M in funds from Harris County Commissioner Precincts 3&4, will allow for further study of alternatives, particularly development of a tunnel alternative for consideration in the study. 

 

With this additional work, a Draft Report is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2022, and study conclusion in December of 2023.

 

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On 12/15/2021 at 2:22 PM, samagon said:

just received this email from BBTRS@usace.army.mil

 

The issue there is the initial look apparently was talking about building tunnels 150 feet below ground level, which seems unlikely to work well, given that Houston's average elevation is about 50 to 60 feet, so large pumps would be required to get the water out of the tunnels and into the Gulf. The volumes of water are huge, and large tunnels or canals will be required. I did a calculation one time in response to a question about using pipelines, and determined that to empty either the Addicks or Barker reservoirs(one, not both) with a pipeline of the same capacity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the largest in the country, would take well over 2 years. The scale required to move hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water is huge. Using the oil perspective again, the 210,000 acre feet capacity of the Addicks reservoir is about 1.7 billion barrels.

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21 hours ago, Ross said:

The issue there is the initial look apparently was talking about building tunnels 150 feet below ground level, which seems unlikely to work well, given that Houston's average elevation is about 50 to 60 feet, so large pumps would be required to get the water out of the tunnels and into the Gulf. 

I’m pretty sure it works as long as the outlet is lower than the inlet. Water flow and gravity are kind of funny like that.

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21 hours ago, Ross said:

The volumes of water are huge, and large tunnels or canals will be required. I did a calculation one time in response to a question about using pipelines, and determined that to empty either the Addicks or Barker reservoirs(one, not both) with a pipeline of the same capacity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the largest in the country, would take well over 2 years. The scale required to move hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water is huge. Using the oil perspective again, the 210,000 acre feet capacity of the Addicks reservoir is about 1.7 billion barrels.

Yes, huge capacities would be required. That’s why they are talking tunnels, not pipelines.  So the comparison to the Alaska pipeline (even if your math was accurate) is not compelling. FWIW, San Antonio has a successful, tunnel similar to (though smaller than) what is being talked about for Houston. (The San Antonio tunnel has a capacity of 50,000 gallons per second, about 48 times the capacity of the Alaska pipeline.)

 

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1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

I’m pretty sure it works as long as the outlet is lower than the inlet. Water flow and gravity are kind of funny like that.

I would need to see the design and calculations. I would also question whether a large tunnel that's 50 to 75 miles long that remains full of water after a flood event would be a good thing.

1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

Yes, huge capacities would be required. That’s why they are talking tunnels, not pipelines.  So the comparison to the Alaska pipeline (even if your math was accurate) is not compelling. FWIW, San Antonio has a successful, tunnel similar to (though smaller than) what is being talked about for Houston. (The San Antonio tunnel has a capacity of 50,000 gallons per second, about 48 times the capacity of the Alaska pipeline.)

 

There's nothing wrong with my calculations. I may not have been clear that I was explaining to someone why pipelines would not be an option for transferring large quantities of water from West Houston to the Gulf of Mexico.

1 acre foot to barrel [US, petroleum] = 7758.36743 barrel [US, petroleum]

Capacity of Addicks Reservoir = 210,000 acre feet

Capacity of TAPS = 2,000,000 bbls/day

210,000*7758.36743 = 1,629,257,160.3 barrels

1,629,257,160.3/2,000,000 = 814 days = 2.23 years

 

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2 hours ago, Houston19514 said:

I’m pretty sure it works as long as the outlet is lower than the inlet. Water flow and gravity are kind of funny like that.

But surely if the outlet is 100' below sea level that would have some bearing on matters, wouldn't it? 

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9 minutes ago, Ross said:

There's nothing wrong with my calculations.

Your calculations are OK, it's your example that's off. 

Apples to apples, at 28 feet, four inches in diameter the San Antonio pipeline has significantly more capacity than the 48 inch Alaska pipeline: https://www.ksat.com/news/2018/10/18/how-a-giant-water-tunnel-saved-downtown-san-antonio-during-the-flood-of-98/

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Isn't this the same idea as the shutoken gaikaku hōsuiro in Tokyo? It can dump/pump out 52,800 gallons a second into the Edo river but it is much shorter than what's in this plan. 

It's also pretty complex, with a nasa-like command center for 24/7 monitoring, you have to have 10+ meter wide tunnels that connect to inlet silos that also need to interface with different district's sewage that also feed into massive pressurized vessels at the end where the day to day stagnant water has to stay before being released. Water goes slight decline through some of it but is pumped up and out with modified jet engine turbines turned water pumps.

I don't know if San Antonio's is that complex or more passive. But it took the Japanese 16 years to build a 6km one and we're talking two 10m tunnels traveling east for 50km from the reservoirs interchanging with local sewers and silo collection points along the way before both being fed into two separate massive pressurized discharge channel/reservoirs many miles apart. It's all far far from passive, you need pressure vessels, pumps and blowers the entire length and massive ones at the end to ensure during normal ops you aren't dumping de-oxygenated water into rivers and channels and killing everything in it.

The San Antonio tunnel began a year after Tokyo's. It's also like 6km long. The Houston project would dwarf both combined it's much closer to Chicago's ongoing TARP mega-project.  Similar problems with being low lying, former marshlands etc. and having many tunnels span many many miles each with in-stream aeration capable of pumping 100,000s of gallons of oxygen down into the water. Chicago's using old quarries (see thorton and mcCook reservoirs) for holding prior to reprocessing the water at treatment facilities. It's also trying to solve a similar set of problems, handle flooding events, additional sewage treatment holding and processing, process the water prior to releasing into rivers and lake and killing everything in it.

The 10bn-12bn cost number is definitely overly optimistic. The TARP 21.5 miles of tunnels, is said to have costs a total of "3.1bn" but the GAO released a 1981 then restricted notice to then Senator Percy that was later released to the public noting of cost overruns running up to a final projected total of 10.150bn in 1980s dollars, so I am not sure where wikipedia citing a 2005 3bn total number for a project still in phase 2 stage and still not completed comes from. It would be interesting if anyone knew. (granted that they are in stage 2 is impressive as the same report to the senator claimed it would never get there) Anyways, regardless this solution would take many many decades and would be extremely expensive.

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5 hours ago, Ross said:

I would need to see the design and calculations. I would also question whether a large tunnel that's 50 to 75 miles long that remains full of water after a flood event would be a good thing.

There's nothing wrong with my calculations. I may not have been clear that I was explaining to someone why pipelines would not be an option for transferring large quantities of water from West Houston to the Gulf of Mexico.

1 acre foot to barrel [US, petroleum] = 7758.36743 barrel [US, petroleum]

Capacity of Addicks Reservoir = 210,000 acre feet

Capacity of TAPS = 2,000,000 bbls/day

210,000*7758.36743 = 1,629,257,160.3 barrels

1,629,257,160.3/2,000,000 = 814 days = 2.23 years

 

As I said, even if your calculations are correct, they are not compelling.  No one is looking at building a 48-inch pipeline.  They are looking at building a tunnel,a smaller version of which (San Antonio) carries 48 times the capacity of the Alaska pipeline. 

And FWIW, no one is talking about a 50-75 mile tunnel;  more like 20 miles, 35'ish at the VERY high end.  Also, the tunnels would not remain full of water after a flood event.  There would  be pumps to "de-water" the tunnels.

3 hours ago, Two said:

Isn't this the same idea as the shutoken gaikaku hōsuiro in Tokyo? It can dump/pump out 52,800 gallons a second into the Edo river but it is much shorter than what's in this plan. 

It's also pretty complex, with a nasa-like command center for 24/7 monitoring, you have to have 10+ meter wide tunnels that connect to inlet silos that also need to interface with different district's sewage that also feed into massive pressurized vessels at the end where the day to day stagnant water has to stay before being released. Water goes slight decline through some of it but is pumped up and out with modified jet engine turbines turned water pumps.

I don't know if San Antonio's is that complex or more passive. But it took the Japanese 16 years to build a 6km one and we're talking two 10m tunnels traveling east for 50km from the reservoirs interchanging with local sewers and silo collection points along the way before both being fed into two separate massive pressurized discharge channel/reservoirs many miles apart. It's all far far from passive, you need pressure vessels, pumps and blowers the entire length and massive ones at the end to ensure during normal ops you aren't dumping de-oxygenated water into rivers and channels and killing everything in it.

The San Antonio tunnel began a year after Tokyo's. It's also like 6km long. The Houston project would dwarf both combined it's much closer to Chicago's ongoing TARP mega-project.  Similar problems with being low lying, former marshlands etc. and having many tunnels span many many miles each with in-stream aeration capable of pumping 100,000s of gallons of oxygen down into the water. Chicago's using old quarries (see thorton and mcCook reservoirs) for holding prior to reprocessing the water at treatment facilities. It's also trying to solve a similar set of problems, handle flooding events, additional sewage treatment holding and processing, process the water prior to releasing into rivers and lake and killing everything in it.

The 10bn-12bn cost number is definitely overly optimistic. The TARP 21.5 miles of tunnels, is said to have costs a total of "3.1bn" but the GAO released a 1981 then restricted notice to then Senator Percy that was later released to the public noting of cost overruns running up to a final projected total of 10.150bn in 1980s dollars, so I am not sure where wikipedia citing a 2005 3bn total number for a project still in phase 2 stage and still not completed comes from. It would be interesting if anyone knew. (granted that they are in stage 2 is impressive as the same report to the senator claimed it would never get there) Anyways, regardless this solution would take many many decades and would be extremely expensive.

In short, no, it is not much at all like the Japan project.  I think the San Antonio tunnel is substantially more passive than that.  I think they only have pumps for taking water out of the tunnel to replenish the river during dry periods.

More important, the concept being considered for Houston is entirely passive, operated by gravity.  The only pump(s) included would be for "de-watering" (i.e., removing standing water from the bottom of the tunnel after flood periods.)

Nor is the concept much like the Chicago TARP, which, according to its own website,  includes four tunnel systems totaling 109 miles of tunnels, 8 to 33 feet in diameter and 150 to 300 feet underground. (and that is apparently just Phase I)  TARP also includes both sewage and stormwater.  Our concept is only for stormwater.

As to costs, the GAO report to Senator Percy that you mentioned does indeed project a total cost of $10.15 Billion in 1980 dollars, but that was not for 21.5 miles of tunnels, as you claim. That estimate was for the entire TARP project:  

  • 109.6 miles of tunnels and associated structures in Phase I -- $2.331 Billion
  • 21.5 miles of tunnels and associated structures in Phase II -- $1.274 Billion
  • Associated Projects:  Sewage Treatment Plants, in stream aeration, upgrading local sewers, dredging, channel widening, and associated work -- $7.538 Billion

Interest during construction -- $2.612 Billion (Remember, interest rates in 1980 were insanely high - the Fed Funds Rate at the time of the GAO letter was almost 13.5%)

As you can see, the 1980 projected cost of Chicago's TARP project tells us almost nothing about what we should expect the cost to be for the much smaller, much less complex project being conceptualized for Houston. 

Link to the Corps of Engineers earlier study that discusses the tunnel concept a bit:

https://www.swg.usace.army.mil/Portals/26/BBTnT_Interim_Report_202001001_Final_1.pdf

Edited by Houston19514
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4 hours ago, dbigtex56 said:

But surely if the outlet is 100' below sea level that would have some bearing on matters, wouldn't it? 

I suppose it hypothetically could.  And I suppose that if the tunnel was hypothetically 1,000 miles long it would have some bearing on matters. 
But I see nothing in the concept to suggest that the outlet will be 100' below sea level.  Where did you come up with that?  

Edited by Houston19514
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