Yale St. Crossing of White Oak Bayou To Cut Out in 2 Weeks, Reopen in 2018

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007

Yale St. Bridge over White Oak Bayou, Houston Heights, Houston, 77007 An orange and black construction marquee is now advertising the upcoming closure of the Yale St. bridge over White Oak Bayou just south of I-10, starting the Monday after next and running until the New Year’s Eve after next. The 1931 bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slated for replacement after years of asking crossers to please watch their weight (with 10,000 pounds per axle being the most recent upper limit). The per-axle limit was at 8,000 pounds prior to a 2012 drop to 3,000 (which disqualified some SUVs and minivans). The addition of carbon strips to the structure caused TxDOT’s weight limit to yo-yo back up to 10,000.

The plans for the new bridge floated by TxDOT in 2014 included wider outside vehicle lanes and slightly narrower sidewalks (down to 5 feet from 6). But summary and followup notes from the public meeting held at the end of July 2014 say the design has been updated to include 8-foot-wide shared bike and pedestrian pathways on either side of the bridge, in response to the public comments on the project.

The TxDOT meeting summary notes also documents the agency’s attempt to sell the bridge in the Houston Chronicle:


Yale St. Bridge Sale Ad

The attempt to sell the historic structure to someone willing to pay for preservation is required by US law:

Yale St. Bridge Sale Ad

Images: Swamplot inbox (photos), TxDOT (notice scans)


Coming Back a New Bridge

42 Comment

  • I am not a pontist, and maybe that’s why I see nothing special about this old bridge. Excuse me while I go check the Federal statutes to find out what happens if there are no buyers.

  • I’m sure nobody will have anything to say about this.

  • Oh this will be fun and considering how excessively delayed all the current road projects are don’t expect this one to be done until well into 2018.
    At least they should be done with Shepherd sometime soon so folks won’t need to take the Yale/Waugh option going South.

  • The word is axle, not axel.

    This is going to be a massive PITA for a long time. Twenty months to demo the old bridge and build a new one? Really? Even if it is high up over the bayou, it isn’t a long span.

    And of course no entity is willing to remove the ancient remains of the railroad trestle a few yards away. HCFCD says it’s part of the hydrology of the bayou now. Really? It collects debris and impedes water flow. Ugh.

  • Is Walmart paying for it? They should be at least chipping in, since we got nothing from them so far. Ever notice the sidewalk on Yale in front of that center?

  • Thanks, Miz- still got the recent figure skating championships on the brain, apparently! It’s been fixed.

  • I also wonder what will become of the homeless encampment under this bridge and the Heights Blvd bridge. There have been an awful lot of Walmart tents and folding chairs popping up under there recently.

  • This should have been done BEFORE Wal-Mart and the commercial sprawl was built immediately to the south. Heights and Yale together back up quite a bit on both sides of I-10. This will make Heights Blvd a no fly zone. It needs to be done but they’ve known this for years.

  • I live in the Heights and everyone I talk to plans to limit or completely stop shopping in that area while the bridge is closed. When a train crosses Heights and Shepherd it will be slow death. I hope those businesses are planning to offer some discounts.

  • Uggggh, this is really going to back up traffic and impede my ability to inconspicuously slink into Smooches early on Saturday mornings.

  • Post your entry in the “what date will it actually reopen” sweepstakes. My guess is May 1, 2018.

  • Damn. That’s my regular route into the Heights, partially because there’s no RR crossing on Yale. Those RR tracks see at least two dozen trains/day, some of them REALLY slow. They already back up traffic on Heights Blvd. in both directions at random times during the day. Add the diverted Yale traffic and hoo-boy, we got a cluster**** in the making!

  • Dear whoever is building this bridge,

    Please, please, please add a #$%@ing right turn lane from Yale (heading south) to the feeder road for I-10 access while you are at it!!!!! It sssssuuuuuuucccccckkkkks sitting through multiple lights because of people going straight in the right lane (not faulting them). Whoever thought that was not a necessary addition when building the ramps to and from I-10 should be forced to drive that path on Yale 20 times a day. Good luck to the businesses south of I-10. We’ll see you in 2018!!!!

    P.S. -> Thanks to Terry Fisher’s work crew for blocking the right lane on Yale in the 800 block and backing up traffic every morning into the school zones.!!! You da man!!!

  • I blame TxDOT and the Feds. The feeder expansion went right up against the bridge. They did the traffic studies and new that they would be dumping all kinds of traffic onto that bridge once they added a feeder and exit from I-10. They knew that the bridge rating was too low of regular traffic (that is TxDOT’s job). But they completely ignored the bridge when they planned the feeder expansion. The work should have been done 5-6 years ago when it was just San Jac stone and a bunch of empty lots down there. But we develop first and deal with the consequences later, when it will be substantially more difficult for residents to manage the construction closures.

  • is this why la fitness still hasn’t opened?

  • I’m pleasantly surprised by how well they’ve replicated the ornate bridge railing design. Check the details on pages 91 and 92 of the meeting handout Swamplot linked to. Seriously. This is really, really good work.

  • Regarding La Fitness, I heard they discovered some buried items they didn’t know about when they went to develop the site. Thus the large crater in front of the La Fit and the delay.

  • Hey Boaty, do you know what Fisher is building? Just curious.

  • j- an eyesore.

  • All this could have been avoided had they not extended the feeder roads on I-10 inside the 610 loop. Before this, there was -zero- traffic on Yale. No franchised retail or nasty big-box stores that sell cheap Chinese plastic bananas that is found in our finer suburbs. Now the only one of the three Southern entrances to the Heights that is not obstructed by a passing train is out of commission for two years. What a massive pile of sheer incompetence by all levels of our government. They shouldn’t be trusted with sacking my groceries.

  • You could have built the bridge overnight and installed a giant bubble machine with lesbians handing out free candy and kittens for the re-opening and Heights people would still find something to complain about.

  • Interesting how that massive re-construction of Loop 610 between 290 and 10 seems to be moving rapidly and yet it will take two years to replace a bridge and we are now on 2.5 years with that 1/2 mile joke of Westheimer reconstruction between Shepherd and Kirby.

  • If ya’ll will recall, the “Save the Heights” people protested, hollered and screamed about saving that bridge when TXDOT was planning the I-10 improvements. They primped and pranced around when they got it on the Histiric Register and TXDOT said “Fine have it your way, keep that old decaying bridge. But one day soon it may be condemned as unsafe and or need to be replaced….” The government did exactly what the people wanted, they saved the bridge.

    Now that the bridge is part of the crumbling infrastructure and need s to replaced, people are complaining that the work was not done back when it should have been done. (I.e. When Yale was a sleepy little side street used by locals only.)

    So perhaps all those people blaming the government / TXDOT of incompetence need to re-direct those barbs to your neighbors who sign the petition to make the bridge a “precious jewel” of the Heights.

    Can’t have it both ways folks,….. So suck it up and deal.

  • Omg, we live in the central part of America’s 4th largest city and repairs to decayed infrastructure are going to cause traffic! UNFAIR!

  • Am I the only one who thinks nearly TWO YEARS of construction is a bit excessive for one bridge? Took 3 years to build the Oakland Bay Bridge and 4 years for the Golden Gate, this thing better be pretty monumental.

  • Toby, Heights people do like to complain. But seriously, the “greater heights” is one of the biggest neighborhoods in the city and their main artery is about to be cut off for almost 2 years. This is a big deal to a lot of people.

  • The Chinese are building a 30+ mile bridge crossing from Hong Kong to Macau in 2 1/2 years, but good ‘ole Williams Bros. will take 2 years to span a 250’ bayou crossing.

  • I can understand the frustration that my Heights neighbors are in for with that s-l-o-w paced bridge replacement. Two and half years seems excessive for such a small bridge: it isn’t like they have to come up with the idea of a bridge since we’ve had centuries of bridge building experience.
    And, I can empathize that this should’ve been done before the Walmart Death Star and its flotilla was built. At least, I know I’ll avoid the area until the middle of the next President’s term.

  • Toby – so true

    JT – are you one of those inconvenienced Heights dwellers? Suck it up buddy – the 610 / 290 crap has not been moving along rapidly as you seem to think

  • That should be a 6-8 week job worst case, the military could bridge that gap in a couple hours, I mean I know it takes time to pour concrete but that’s insane that it will take that long, and also that Sprawl mart isn’t doing anything to chip in, as their presence is the major reason this bridge is deteriorating rapidly. Inexcusable levels of bureaucracy.

  • So, they’re going to build an 8-foot-wide mixed-use path as part of this bridge? I’m trying to understand what good that will do in actual, practical use, other than being a very wide sidewalk. What good will this do for one very short section of Yale? Who’s riding their bike down Yale? The answer is, no one who doesn’t have a death wish. You know why? Because, one short block to the east, paralleling Yale from 20th St. to Washington, theres a street that has a designated bike lane, and of course, that bridge doesn’t have such a path. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with. I couldn’t agree with “Doghouse” more, replacing this bridge was slated as part of the I-10 feeder road project, but a bunch of people raised a huge stink because of its “historic” value. I can guarantee you that those same people are the ones howling the loudest now about how much this is gonna suck. Hopefully, they learned that the true “value” of a bridge is to be, well, a safely functioning bridge.

  • That 290 / 610 / I-10 deal needed to be done back when David Crocket and Jim Bowie passed through on the way to the Alamo. Seriously though it’s clearly getting pushed along because of all the high price burbs NW of grand parkway with half million dollar mansions turning 290 into even more of a parking lot than ever before. Another subsidy to the ex-ex-urbs.

  • @MATX. No I don’t live in The Heights , give a damn about the historic balustrade, patronize the area nor does the route impact me. I was just was making an observation about the inefficiencies apparent. I’ve got a newsflash for you–the northbound lanes of 610 were rebuilt in less than two years and the piers that are up now will have lanes poured long before this dinky bridge is re-built.. I never made mention of any other part of the 290 construction which has seemingly dragged on with little to show for it.

  • Damn! In the thirties, Hoover Dam was built in five years. And they had shitty equipment compared to today’s standards. I’ve heard of sandbagging it, I do it with my IT projects too, but please. Now, do those estimates include weather related delays? If not, then this is going to take two years, or more.

    Also, as someone else already mentioned, those businesses are going to suffer. I, for one, will not venture into that area, or want to be trapped knowing a train can come by. Like Chris Rock said…. ‘Grand Opening, Grand Closing!’.

  • It’s just a bridge. Sam Houston didn’t stand on it and neither did Howard Hughes.

  • Hmm. Sam Houston was dead long before the bridge was built. But I’d wager money Howard Hughes crossed it many, many times. But, I get your point, JB. It’s still just a bridge.

  • KublaConn- it’s for the old guy on the three wheeled bike that pulls a metal scrap trailer.

  • Toby for Mayor! I’ve been around the world twice in the two years since I left Houston, and some things never change. The Heights gang of Yankee and California transplants crack me up. And the hate for Walmart is simply awesome blaming them on this bridge of disrepair; Walmart started out as a small business with one single store. You Walmart haters hate America.

  • Mel- I guess I walked into that one.
    Toby- pretty funny and it’s true. There are a lot of professional complainers around here but this will be ugly. I foresee burned out vehicles and CHUDS hunting down the stragglers.

  • j- I ride my bike all over the greater Heights area and beyond. My bike is actually my main source of transportation these days, so I wasn’t wondering from an outsider’s POV. For a bike path to be useful, it has to come from somewhere and go to somewhere and a bike path that runs the length of the Yale St. bridge seems kinda ridiculous. Sure, there’s the bike path they’re currently working on that will cross under the bridge on the south side of the bayou, but if they are going to add access to a cross street to and from that bike path, then it should be at Heights Blvd., since there is a designated bike lane running the length of that street.

  • Wally mart didn’t make the bridge get old and falling apart. There are other stores, businesses, another mattress store, 4 huge apartment buildings all in about a mile of each other. But the Wal mart haters, they just hate Walmart a lot. Oh well. What about what could be the next traffic chaos , Studemont Junction, and the what ever it is being built at the site of the old tile place off I 10. One section of Studemont was sinking last time I drive under the train train tracks. It’s pretty obvious the main streets around the Heights -Washington area can’t handle the traffic now, and 5 yrs from now, will the streets be better , who knows.

  • Yes, two and a half years is a long time, but the Hoover Dam isn’t the greatest example of how “we used to get things done.” 112 people died building it.