Did the Heritage West Bikeway Lose Its Way?

A reader wants to know what happened to the section of the new Heritage West Bikeway along White Oak Bayou as it passes under I-45 just north of Downtown (shown above, facing west).

I take this bike trail to UHD out of the Heights. It has been about three weeks since I last used it. This section was brand new, I think less than 6 months old and it has been torn up. In the distance you can see another orange fence, where the new trail starts again and then abruptly ends at a construction site where they are building a bike bridge.

I am curious to know if anyone has info about why a new section is torn up already. I’m looking forward to a completed trail that will connect the Heights directly to Downtown and Minute Maid park.

If nothing else, it’s a pretty sweet pic about how Houston infrastructure is always “improving”, no matter how new it is.

Photo: Swamplot inbox

26 Comment

  • I use that too, I think my guess would be that it’s intended to connect to the link that runs behind the jail and UHD downtown, that does connect to where Minutemaid is, that spur ends at an old railroad bridge over what I believe is Buffalo Bayou. Was hoping they would finish that.

  • Punch list?

  • Maybe all the rain recently destablilized the new concrete? That’s the only thing I can think of…

  • If it wasn’t a soil failure, it’s possible that the concrete samples from the pour failed a compression test.

  • When the City rebuilt the drainage under White Oak Park at Gladys Street a few years back, they closed the bike trail for a significant amount of time. During those months they must have dug out, paved, dug out again, and paved again that path at least two or three times. At the time I couldn’t figure out why. But now I see that these dang bike paths must be so complicated to build that the City has to give it a few tries before they get it right!

  • Why is the City so in love with concrete for these trails? The trail on Buffalo Bayou along Allen Parkway was almost entirely asphalt and lasted for a long time. It was also a lot easier on the legs of the runners.

  • It will be just like the East End bike trail. Unfinished & no easy way to get there. (McKee & Sterrett)

  • Two words: crushed gravel.

  • They’re putting the toll plaza in.

  • No, the trail along the Buffalo is garbage. A partially hidden rut nearly destroyed my front rim. The asphalt is rutted and nearly gone in section where it floods. Hence: concrete.
    Ride the old crappy trail along the bayou and the lovely new ones across the way and tell me the difference. Now I will finally be able to skate along the bayou. Houston is years behind most cities in bike trails, but finally making up for it

  • I rode this two weeks ago on sunday and it was intact. I think it was torn out because this section had a slope away from the bayou, causing sediment to fill the low area every time the bayou rose. The trail was covered in muck from the rain the day before. I figured this would remain forever a dirt stretch, but I guess somebody with the city caught it. Way to go COH!

  • The trail along the bayou is in bad shape because it is too old, not because it isn’t concrete. The concrete will shift and crack and buckle because it is on soft soil. Just look at any of the older concrete roads in Houston. It is way more expensive to tear out the bike path and start over than to smooth out asphalt with a new layer.

  • Asphalt is not nearly as durable as concrete. The expense comes from maintenance. Maintaining asphalt is much more expensive long term. Concrete is also much stronger and stiff, and thus able to endure ground shifts. No, concrete is not maintenance free, but is likely a better solution.

  • But what about under periodic flood conditions? is concrete worth it?
    Why not just a gravel path and ‘user beware?’ (Of course there’d have to be a large notice posted about turning back! now or accept the responsibility yadda yadda)

  • I don’t care what it is, so long as they finish the bridges, and re-surface the old railroad bridges that currently cause dead ends on the trails/sidewalks. Shoot crushed oyster shell is fine, and if you ruined a rim on a trail maybe you need a more durable bike?

  • The better solution would be a 2-3″ layer of crushed gravel on top of the concrete. Best of both worlds, who’s paying?

  • gravel wouldn’t allow for skates, skateboards, razor scooters, etc.

    I wonder how much cheaper the Terry Hershey park trail is though, that is a super nice trail (I ride my longboard on it from the beltway to hwy 6 and back) I also like asphault because it doesn’t have the joints which can be pretty rough on small hard wheels.

  • Good point, but runners love gravel and bikes would be fine. Someone has to lose. I’m not a small wheels guy so, I vote agianst you hahahah!

  • Hi there. My name is Dan Raine, I am the Bicyclist-Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Houston Department of Public Works. A friend had forwarded this particular subject to me as an FYI. Please know that PWE and the Bikeway Program provides project updates on our website http://www.houstonbikeways.org as well as our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/houstonbikeways. Now in regard to some of the comments made on this site:

    Yes, some concrete did not pass a compression test and needed to be replaced. Currently the construction team is working on several bridges, including pouring a concrete deck upon the prefabrication bridge over Little White Oak Bayou. In addition, the construction team is getting very close to completing the restoration of the two steel railroad trestles adjacent to the UHD Campus: the concrete decks have been poured, the bridge structures have been painted and railings have been added, these bridges should receive striping within the next 2 weeks and will be open for students of the University to access the campus (since the Main Street bridge has been closed due to the METRO reconstruction project). Electrical conduit will also be installed along the trail for future lighting (not part of this project). It is our intention to have a ribboncutting ceremony for this project in May at the UHD Campus – I hope you’ll join us.

    Regarding our use of concrete: lasts longer and easier to maintain than asphalt. Yes, its a harder surface for runners, that is why you’ll probably see a narrow dirt path adjacent to the trail (alike White Oak Bayou @ TC Jester Park). Concrete is more durable in flooding conditions, as you may anticipate this trail to be under water during flooding conditions. We love the suggestions of decomposed granite or other fine materials, but that will only float away during flooding conditions.

    Don’t hesitate to contact us with additional questions – hope to meet some of you in May when we open this trail for public use. We’re very excited and hope you are too!!!

    Kind regards,

    Dan Raine AICP LCI
    City of Houston Bicyclist-Pedestrian Coordinator
    Public Works & Engineering Department
    Infrastructure and Environmental Planning
    611 Walker, 18th Floor
    832-395-2692 Office
    832-395-2704 Fax
    Visit our program on Facebook:

  • Oops – I failed to mention that the retaining wall materials have been ordered and should be constructed in the next few weeks along various portions of the project (along White Oak Boulevard, under the Spring Street pedestrian-bicyclist bridge and in Stude Park).

  • Thanks Dan!

  • Thanks for the update Dan! Everything seems to be moving in the right direction, but all citizens need to stay alert. Even the right direction needs a guiding hand every once in a while.

  • When are they going to finish the trail construction along Memorial Drive? The bridge installations notwithstanding, 6 guys hired from the Home Depot parking lot armed with shovels and a wheelbarrow could have finished the concrete trail by now.

  • Ok what happened? Did ribbon cutting happen in May? Trail remains unfinished & is now a graffiti mess. Oh… just saw update. Plans to finish 1/2013. =/

  • If you had not heard, the construction contractor for this project had gone bankrupt, leaving the project dormant for quite a while. Good news is that the new contractor started working yesterday (8/13/12) and has 120 days to complete the bikeway project. Yes, this should mean that the project will be done by 12/31/12.

  • Apparently I have been optimistic. While work continues on the Heritage West project, TxDOT has the project listed as completing in February 2013. I apologize for any inconvenience to anyone for my inaccurate assessment of the anticipated completion date.