Proposed trail improvements advance along Brays Bayou

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
New Buffalo Speedway bridge opens over Brays Bayou
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A new bridge over Brays Bayou has opened in hopes of reducing the flood risk in southwest Houston.

HOUSTON, Texas -- Trail improvements are being planned along a stretch of Brays Bayou through the Braeswood and Meyerland areas. Pending reviews by the Army Corp of Engineers and the city of Houston, some elements of the project could be sent out for construction bids by the end of 2022.

The video above is from a previous report.

Ultimately, the goal is to replace existing 8-foot asphalt trails with 10-foot concrete trails on both sides of the bayou where possible, said Trent Rondot, conservation and maintenance director with the Houston Parks Board.

"Part of our overall look at the system is wanting to upgrade all of the older trail systems to this new 10-foot-wide standard," he said.

There are multiple points along the trail where trail users are forced to cross from the north side of the bayou to the south side, or vice versa, because the trail is not continuous, Rondot said, including at Buffalo Speedway, just past Stella Link Road, and at Chimney Rock Road. In some instances, the only means of crossing are two-foot-wide paths that do not accommodate cyclists well, he said. Once work is completed, many of those forced crossing points will be eliminated, Rondot said.

Work on the portion of the trail between Hermann Park and South Rice Avenue is moving ahead first, Rondot said. Design work has been completed, and the project is awaiting approval by the Army Corps of Engineers-which has invested funding into Brays Bayou-followed by a review by Houston's permitting department.

Rondot said he hopes to go out for construction bids by the end of the year, but it is hard to project how long the review process will take.

Design work is expected to begin soon on the trail between South Rice and Chimney Rock roads, Rondot said. The parks board opted to hold off on design work on that portion until after the Harris County Flood Control District finished its own project in the area, which included redesigning bridges over Chimney Rock and South Rice. From there, trails can connect to existing concrete trails that were recently built by the HCFCD as part of Project Brays, Rondot said.

The HCFCD's bridge work included building 10-foot concrete shelves at intersections with major streets. HPB plans to use those shelves as connection points for lower-level trails that will allow trail-users to travel beneath streets as opposed to having to cross them at grade, Rondot said.

"Our project is basically trying to build off of what (HCFCD) have kind of created," Rondot said.

The HPB is also working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County on a roughly 100-yard-long connection from the West Loop Transit Center to Brays Bayou trails, Rondot said. The project is about 50% of the way through the design phase.

Harris County Precinct 1 is also involved in the broader improvements with design plans nearing completion on a new pedestrian bridge at Stella Link Road.

A representative with HPB said it is too early to provide a cost estimate for the Brays Bayou projects, and a clearer picture of the cost is expected to develop as the projects advance through the review phase.


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