Bayou Greenways Initiative

Over the past decade, RPS has worked with Houston Parks Board (HPB) on more than 10, 1- to 6 -mile trail segments that are a part of their monumental Bayou Greenways Initiative. Project scopes encompassed over 23 miles of shared use trails, 4 pedestrian bridges, parking lots, trailheads, more than 6 underbridge crossings, utility conflict coordination, detention, neighborhood connections, low-flow culvert crossings, kayak launches and more.   Construction costs for only the projects we were part of total nearly $45 million. 

Key Details

Client:

Houston Parks Board

Location:

Houston, TX

Bayous worked on include:

  • White Oak Bayou
  • Brays Bayou
  • Greens
  • Halls
  • Sims
  • Centerpoint Easements

Services provided: 

  • preliminary design
  • environmental evaluations
  • construction document design
  • cost estimates
  • permit documents
  • bidding
  • limited construction phase services and construction management. 

Challenge

The client’s mission is to “create, improve, protect, and advocate for parks for everyone”.  They strive to do this by efficiently designing and constructing trails, highlighting natural elements, using sustainable materials, and making critical connections to the community.

In order to provide full connectivity, numerous waterways required crossings.  This included spanning sections as small as 80-feet to 240-feet.  

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Solution

To accomplish this, each area was looked at separately.  Main streams required full clearance over the floodway with elevated bridge structures.  Other crossings could be accomplished with a low flow culvert.  In each case hydrologic and hydraulic analyses were performed to prove that the design provided did not impact the waterway.  Each of these then had to obtain approval though their governing agency, often times including the US Army Corps of Engineers.

We worked closely with the Client and landscape architect on each of these trail segments to produce a successful project, one that met HPB’s mission.  RPS provided engineering designs that dealt with tight site constraints to achieve community connections and safer underbridge crossings.  Diligent coordination with reviewing agencies was also key to these goals.

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One particular parking lot location was not only in the floodplain, but the floodway.  The small space also needed detention for any impervious cover.

In addition to ensuring that the grading for the parking closely matched the existing ground to not impede any flow, we proposed using a combination of concrete and permeable pavers to design the parking.  This combination minimized the detention required, offered a unique aesthetic that complimented the adjacent park, provided the detention we needed through the underground voids, eliminated the need for inlets in the pavement and enhance water quality. In the end, it was more cost effective than a standard all concrete driveway and parking lot. 

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One concern we did have in using the permeable pavers in this area that we knew would be inundated, was the possibility of typical pavers floating/being dislodged or any aggregate doing the same.  With research, we found a paver that was larger than most, that interlocked and did not require any small aggregate in the voids.  It also contributed to the unique aesthetic. 

Result

Completion and construction of all items mentioned in the summary. 

  • Drainage Modeling and Analysis
  • Parking Lot Design
  • Trail and Sidewalk Design
  • Linear Park Design
  • Low-flow culverts and other water crossings
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