12/06/13 10:30am

Retention Pond Along White Oak Bayou Between Shepherd and Yale, Houston Heights

A reader sends in pics showing how construction is progressing on the 3 retention ponds along White Oak Bayou TxDOT is building between Yale and Shepherd — and hoping to trade them for any available updates about plans for the adjacent segment of the planned bayou-side path: “Looks like they are making progress with tree planting and installation of pavers on the slopes. They have left a wide swath of level ground around the entire perimeter. They are still doing earthwork on the north end, and it looks like they still need to excavate more soil from the center pond, but you can make your way around all three detention ponds.”

The photo at top shows the center pond (south of the bayou), looking northeast, with White Oak Bayou barely visible off to the lower right. Below, a view of the northernmost piece, Rutland Pond, a portion of which interrupts 6th St. (where the orange construction fencing is visible):

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On Rutland Pond
11/07/13 10:00am

NOW PICTURE HOUSTON’S ASTRODOME REPLACED BY A GIANT WET PIT Simply filling in the 9-acre, 35-ft.-deep hole in the ground where the Astrodome now sits would eat up more than $10 million of the estimated $28 million it would cost to demolish the publicly owned structure, according to county engineers. (Another $8 million of that total has already been approved, for removal of asbestos, ticket booths, turnstiles, grass berms, and ramps, plus all the seats and interior items; that demo work is already taking place.) Which leads county commissioner Steve Radack to suggest that the money be saved and the site be turned into a giant flood-preventing detention pond — “if and when” it is demolished. That’d make for a rather eloquent and down-to-earth symbol to substitute for Houston’s most famous landmark. Judge Emmett, who before the failed bond vote favored preserving the Dome by renovating it, declared after Tuesday’s election defeat that “We’re going to have to do something quick.” But commissioner Jack Cagle says he has no deadlines for a decision in mind. So who’s pushing to have the Dome demolished in a hurry? The same folks who’ve been calling the aging structure an “inconvenience” to Rodeo and Texans game visitors, write the Chronicle‘s Kiah Collier and Nancy Sarnoff: “Reliant Park’s main tenants, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and the NFL’s Houston Texans want the county to act as quickly as possible, and certainly before the Super Bowl comes to Reliant Stadium in early 2017.” [Houston Politics; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Brays Bayou detention basin: John Lienhard

08/14/12 1:48pm

A Swamplot reader offers a trade: A few photos of the retention ponds going in north of White Oak Bayou where 6th St. was blocked between Yale and Shepherd (above and below) — in exchange for more details on the park that’s apparently planned for that location, including a scheduled completion date for the construction. “I have no ‘official’ information, only old data and hearsay,” reports the reader. Which includes this map dating from 2010:

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12/21/09 7:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: WHEN SWAMP LIFE GIVES YOU SWAMP LEMONS “I guess it’s a ‘turning lemons into lemonade’ thing. When you live in a swamp, you may as well excavate enough fill to raise the houses above sea level, then turn the excavated surrounding lands into moats around your McCastles.” [J.V., commenting on Favorite Houston Design Cliché: Vote for One of These Official Nominees]

05/01/07 11:27am

Pervious ConcreteOne of the more frustrating obstacles to paving more of this city is Houston’s little flooding problem. If we didn’t have so much damn water to get rid of, there’d be a whole lot more room here for basketball, high heels, rollerblades, and parking.

Tests now being conducted in a Rice University parking lot may change that soon. A segment of sidewalk is being built with pervious concrete, a not-so-new building material with the texture of Rice Krispies:

the product allows water to drain through rather than run off the surface. Environmental benefits include allowing water to percolate back into the soil or be detained rather than being channeled directly into storm drains; a surface that isn’t slippery when wet; and a brighter surface that helps reflect heat.

But there’s more environmental benefit here than just allowing parking lots to drain faster. Using more pervious concrete may allow us to get rid of those annoying green spaces developers are now putting in within larger developments:

The biggest cost benefit to using pervious concrete, said Max Amery, senior facilities engineer and project manager, is that it reduces or eliminates the need for water retention areas to contain run-off, which can be quite expensive in space-limited areas like a city or campus.

Next step: Revising city building codes so everyone can use it!

Photo: Portland Cement Association