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Action in House to benefit local bayous, flood control and ship channel project

Today, the House of Representatives approved legislation introduced by Congressman Gene Green to begin the process of designating Buffalo Bayou as a National Heritage Area. Such a designation would highlight the historical significance of the waterway and allow local officials to apply for federal resources to further the redevelopment of the area.

Specifically, H.R. 1776, the Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area Study Act, would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct a study to examine whether the east side of Buffalo Bayou is worthy of being designated a National Heritage Area. A positive study determination by the NPS would allow the introduction of the actual Buffalo Bayou National Heritage Area legislation in Congress.

“The legislation approved by Congress is the first step in the process of the designating Buffalo Bayou a National Heritage Area,” Green said. “The numerous historic sites and events which have taken place in and around Buffalo Bayou makes this area an ideal candidate for such designation. With the help of our city leaders and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership, we have a good chance to gain a positive recommendation from the National Park Service on our designation request.”

Green said that designating Buffalo Bayou from Shepherd Drive to the Turning Basin as a National Heritage Area could would help Houston’s efforts to rebuild after the recent Tropical Storm Allison, in which flooding from Buffalo Bayou caused extensive damage. Additionally, it will allow for the continued beautification of Buffalo Bayou similar to the transformation taking place at Allen’s Landing and enhance the vital green space for all residents to enjoy. If NPS deems the project worthy, Green will then introduce legislation designating Buffalo Bayou as a National Heritage area.

The House of Representatives also approved HR 2311-the Energy And Water Appropriations Conference Report for Fiscal Year 2002, legislation which includes $33.7 million for the deepening and widening of the Houston Ship Channel and $377,000 for the Greens Bayou flood control project.
“I am pleased that Greens Bayou flood control project will receive much needed funding to mitigate the impact of the recent flooding,” Green said. “The damage from Tropical Storm Allison underscores the importance of flood control projects. The heavy rains flooded approximately 30,000 homes and total damages are estimated at $5 billion.

Green said that the expansion of the Port of Houston is important to Houston’s economy on many levels. The $33.7 million funding will ensure that the project remains on an accelerated, optimal schedule, since Congress authorized it in 1996.
The Port, connected to the Gulf of Mexico by the 53-mile ship channel, is the busiest U.S. port in foreign tonnage, second in the U. S. in total tonnage, and the world’s eighth busiest port overall. It provides $5.5 billion in annual business revenues and creates, directly or indirectly, almost 200,000 jobs. With nearly 7,000 vessels navigating the channel annually, the widening of the channel from 400 to 520 feet and its deepening from 40 to 45 feet is a necessary step in safeguarding both the maritime industry and the residents of surrounding areas.