That New Bridge Going in Under the Bridge Over the Bayou

Courtesy of Swamplot reader James Glassman, here’s a shot of what’s been connected so far under the Shepherd Dr. overpass as it crosses the end of Allen Pkwy. at Buffalo Bayou. Suspended ’neath the cars at this gateway to River Oaks: a new pedestrian bridge, which will link the aptly named Sandy Reed Memorial Trail along the bayou’s South bank with Memorial Dr. to the north. Here’s how it’s drawn out in the Buffalo Bayou master plan:


Photo: James Glassman. Map: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

33 Comment

  • This will be awesome. It’ll get runners, pedestrians, and bike riders off of the old Shepherd Bridge.

  • As a civil engineer, I absolutely loved connections to the existing columns of automobile bridge. Very neat idea.

  • I’m sure the bats will love the new bridge, as will the pedestrians using it (just up until the point when they get bit by the rabid bats).

  • Just like running under the Mopac bridge along Lady Bird Lake.

  • It is superfantastic!
    Will it be lighted?
    I can’t remember the style of these spans but hope it’s not so bat-friendly as the Waugh overpass.

  • In addition to runners, pedestrians and bike riders, it will no doubt also attract bums and muggers.

  • The bat colony is at Waugh. No bats under Shepherd, or at least no overpowering stench of concentrated bat urine. For cyclists this bridge is the greatest thing since the derailleur.

  • enginerd,

    I am surprised they got anyone to sign off on adding a structure to someone else’s structure.

  • Is there a Sandy Reed back story?

  • I’m no civil engineer but it could be that this will actually make the structure stronger. It’s like adding extra bracing.

  • This is money well spent by the city.

  • I saw this yesterday when driving home, didnt have a clue what was going on. Glad to see its a new pedestrian bridge, what a great idea. I ride my bike that way a lot and I almost always get killed near there, so it will be nice to be off that road.

  • This will be great for the runners (and the bikers, as much as I don’t want that to be the case). All of the renovations to the trail around buffalo bayou will be great when completed. That said, it is taking incredibly long to complete them and they’ve torn up the place in the meantime. I believe they started in 2010, and they aren’t predicting being done until the end of 2015. It simply shouldn’t take that long to repave a 5-mile trail and add a few bridges. furthermore, they are destroying the wild life along the trail. there used to be so many rabbits along the trail in the early morning, and while a few remain, it is nothing like what was there 3 years ago. I worry that in another 3 or 4 years when this is finally done, they will all be gone.

  • @jfriff I doubt it. I probably adds a bit of lateral stability to the columns but for the most part all this structure appears to do is add live/dead loads to the support columns of the automobile bridge. Not a big deal considering those loads are probably quite low in comparison to their ultimate load capacity.

    @Awp. That actually probably wasnt that difficult. The Engineer of record most certainly had the original design and calculations for the other structure and simply modified that design. What probably occurred is they reproduced the old drawings with the new modifications and the new calculations and the new engineer of record signed off on that.

    We do that quite a bit in Industrial construction, Modifying and adding to structures that are sometimes 50 years old or more.

  • “…aptly named Sandy Reed Memorial Trail…”


    Thank you , S-lot for making my morning!

  • P.S. I also have met guys through work named “Barry Seeker” and “Dusty Carpenter.” Seriously!

  • Good deal, the shepherd bridge is far too narrow, and the step down off the small lip is 12-16 inches, so if you’re on a bike it’s not exactly going to be easy if you have to come off that. Not to mention the traffic is brutal.

  • @awp:

    they heard you liked structure, so they put a structure on the structure…

    it was xzibit approved.

  • If you’re on your bike on the sidewalk, you’re violating state law anyway.

  • I bike across that bridge a fair bit. It isn’t great, especially having to change lanes across merging traffic at both ends. But that new underbridge looks too narrow to bike without either dismounting or running down any pedestrians or oncoming traffic, and too long for that to be tolerable. I wouldn’t be surprised if when it’s complete, riding on top with all the SUV’s is still the least bad option for cyclists.

  • …cyclists who are trying to get somewhere, that is. Recreational cycling is a different matter. Not everyone realizes the difference.

  • Can’t they walk their bikes across the bridge in order to “get somewhere”?

  • Are you trolling me? Yes, people can walk their bikes across a block-long bridge. You could also get out of your car and walk across the road bridge. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to do that, and neither would a cyclist who had places to be.
    People who are just out for a recreational ride around the park might mind the walk less (or maybe not). I just meant to say that the bridge might not be much of an improvement for people who want to stay on their wheels.

  • #Anon: the smell emanating from under the Waugh Dr. bridge is bat GUANO. Smells horrible(I used to live along Allen Parkway and the odor would drift westward 2 blocks or so.It is very expensive fertilizer,though)! The pedestrian bridge under the Shepherd Dr. bridge will be well used-and thank God we won’t have to endanger our lives using that narrow 1940’s “sidewalk”. I used to run track when I went to STHS and crossing that bridge via the “sidewalk”was/is dangerous.Now users will have to fend off vagrants,bums& muggers.

  • Sidewalks are legal to ride on (bicycles) in Houston except in the central business district, ie. downtown. Also you must yield to pedestrians outside of that perfectly legal.

  • #23

    Rhetorical question

  • Chill Sid, I think you’re wound a bit tight dude. Remember to breathe when you are out on your bike riding, seriously with “places to go.”

  • @cm #25, you’re wrong. The Houston Municipal Code of Ordinances prohibits riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in ANY business district, not just the CBD. State law says bicycles are vehicles and have all of the rights and responsibilities thereof (i.e. must ride in the roadway, unless it’s limited/controlled-access):

    From the City of Houston Code of Ordinances, Chapter 45 – TRAFFIC:

    Sec. 45-2. – Definitions.
    Business district means the territory contiguous to and including a roadway when, within any 600 feet along such roadway, there are buildings in use for business or industrial purposes which occupy 300 feet of frontage on one side or 300 feet collectively on both sides of the roadway.

    Sec. 45-302. – Riding on sidewalks.
    (a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.

    From the Texas Transportation Code:

    Sec. 551.101. RIGHTS AND DUTIES. (a) A person operating a bicycle has the rights and duties applicable to a driver operating a vehicle under this subtitle, unless:
    (1) a provision of this chapter alters a right or duty; or
    (2) a right or duty applicable to a driver operating a vehicle cannot by its nature apply to a person operating a bicycle.

  • Oof, I stand corrected was told that by a friend on the force/HPD.. They don’t enforce that at all, I use the sidewalks near exclusively on my bike and never have had a problem even downtown.. Breakin’ the law!

  • FYI, while we’re on the subject of traffic laws as they pertain to those not in automobiles, I have it on good authority that the Metro Police do ticket for jaywalking across the light rail lines. A coworker of a friend was mighty p-o-ed to receive one of these expensive tickets.

  • Kevpat64: I screwed up by mentioning a possible divide between biking recreation or for transportation. It was off topic, and I clearly set myself up to have my main idea misinterpreted—that a long narrow bridge isn’t so awesome for cyclists.

  • It’s great to see so many folks excited about this transportation project, its being constructed by TxDOT using federal funds obtained by the City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering. There is a quite a bit of work to be completed, but when finished, the bridge will span across the bayou and provide a 14 foot-wide deck to allow for the simultaneous use by pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers, folks with strollers and more. The design idea originated from TxDOT, and while it looks ‘cool’, it’s also very practical. If you have any questions or want to be kept up to date on project progress and future ribboncutting, please feel free to contact us at the Houston Bikeway Program and we’re also on Facebook:

  • 14 feet wide? Fantastic. That’s very good to hear.