A local coalition wants to take Houston’s loops to greener pastures

CORRECTS SOURCE OF FUNDING TO A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE CITY AND THE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION BUFFALO BAYOU PARTNERSHIP A young boy rides his bicycle along Houston's Buffalo Bayou as it snakes its way into downtown below a highway overpass, Friday, April 18, 2014. The city and the nonprofit Buffalo Bayou Partnership are spending $58 million to improve the waterway and the surrounding parks and bike and jogging trails. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

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A group of city officials and local businesses recently announced their plans for development around Houston loopy enough to make any downtown green with envy:

Perhaps the most notable portion of this plan is its “Green Loop,” which, according to the announcement, includes a five-mile circuit of parks, recreation areas and green spaces encircling Houston’s business district.

Central Houston, Inc., announced the idea as part of its “Plan Houston” presentation, with a stated objective of providing green walking space around the downtown area, while also attracting retail and recreational businesses.

For now, the idea is reportedly geared toward taking advantage of two major upcoming events: the  re-routing of Interstate 45 around to the east side of downtown by Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2036.

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Outside of TxDOT’s plans, the group is reportedly looking at sinking both Interstate 69 and Interstate 45 behind the George R. Brown Convention Center and Minute Maid Park.

The eastern side of the Green Loop would include soccer fields and other recreational areas over the top of the sunken freeways, as well as connect to Discovery Green from the east side.

Houston’s northwest edge of the Loop, known as the Bayou Steps, would include buildings facing Buffalo Bayou along with ways to mitigate flooding in the area, which overflowed its banks during Hurricane Harvey. Pointing west, this section would connect to Buffalo Bayou Park.

The southern border would run along the Pierce Elevated, with, based on the prospective propsal, the possibility of either tearing down the freeway or using its structure to build a “sky park,” complete with walking paths, bicycle lanes and retail shops.

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While still in the development stage, organizers say many of these plans will depend on the re-routing of major freeways, which TxDOT will reportedly roll out over the next few years.

Funding will likely be secured through a combination of private and public dollars, similar to Discovery Green’s financing.

What do you think?

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