The City of Houston wants Brays Bayou to be 47 million times better, and it’s already making moves

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Thanks to a $47 million interest-free loan from the Texas Water Development Board, the City of Houston is reportedly set to implement a long-awaited flood control improvement plan to Brays Bayou.

The loan is said to be going toward replacing eight bridges along the bayou, which act to stem the flow of floodwaters during heavy rains. Work on the project slated to begin in March 2018.

Houston city officials said they applied for the loan in January, citing damage to the Meyerland area on the city’s southwest side during the Memorial Day floods of 2015 and the Tax Day floods the following year.

Thousands of residents along the Brays Bayou watershed, including the Meyerland neighborhoods, were also affected by floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey this past August.

RELATED: Study: Houston FEMA Map Missed 75 Percent of Damaged Areas

An estimated $740,000, the city’s first payment on the loan is due November 2018; the plan is for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reimburse Harris County for the work on the bayou project. Harris County will then reportedly send funds to the city to pay off the loan.

Supporters say the financing plan frees up much-needed funds for the project.

While Houstonians affected by Harvey may wonder why maintenance and logistics issues for its bayous did not become more a priority before the storm, officials said the city first looked into federal financial aid to improve Brays Bayou nearly 20 years ago.

Initially, developers slated the refresh project to be complete in 2014, but they said slowdowns in federal aid packages, including a review by the U.S. Environment Protection Agency on potential water quality benefits, effectively slowed the project to a halt.

RELATED: Texas Water Development Board Implementing Statewide Flood Plan

Potentially back on track with the newer investments, project officials said the construction will include more than bridge improvements: four upstream detention basins, capable of holding over 3.5 billion gallons, are already completed.

City planners said widening the bayou will also remove more than 15,000 homes from the 100-year flood plain, including 3,500 homes at a high risk of flooding.

Officials said they expect Project Brays to be completed by 2021, with new projects to improve White Oak and Hunting Bayous also in the works.

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