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Memorial Park Master Plan


themidtownguy

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2 hours ago, Triton said:

It's for drainage.

The one theory I have for why they split the tunnels into two is that federal regulation probably has some rules when it comes to tunnel length and the requirement to build a ventilation system to take out vehicle exhaust. The price tag probably would have risen substantially if they made one long tunnel with those requirements as opposed to two smaller tunnels. On top of that, you probably also would have been required to build emergency exits every-so-often. Again, that's just a theory I have.

I think you are correct on the ventilation aspect.  I recall reading about such ventilation requirements regarding the below-grade segments in NHHIP. If a "tunnel" is more than x' feet long mechanical ventilation is required.

Found this:  

NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] 502 does not mandate that mechanical ventilation be provided in tunnels less than 1000 m (3280 ft.) long, but does require an engineering analysis be performed. Historically, for short tunnels, common practice is that they are not mechanically ventilated. However, societal awareness about the serious nature of fires in road tunnels, coupled with the development of NFPA 502, has led to a need to demonstrate quantitatively whether mechanical ventilation is needed. NFPA 502 states that emergency ventilation shall not be required in tunnels less than 3280 feet in length, where it can be shown by an engineering analysis that the level of safety provided by a mechanical ventilation system is equaled or exceeded by enhancing the means of egress or the use of natural ventilation

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Great photos @hindesky and yep i went for an early morning pre easter brunch bike ride and so fun to see all the activity at the park and loop! 

and heck yes, this tunnel progress is so darn impressive and is looking amazing! cannot wait to see it finished! 

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20 minutes ago, thatguysly said:

Are they building a bridge over the water feature between the tunnels or will it be a culvert system? The rendering make me think culvert but that doesn't seem as hospitable to the ecosystem.

We only support land animals, not water ones.

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that new crushed gravel path for foot and bike traffic that replaces the old picnic lane road is super fun to ride on with it's curves and "in the middle of the woods" feel! 

It does kinda go a bit out of the way if you are in a hurry to get home like i was the other night haha...but yep it's awesome! 

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Went by this weekend, and its crazy to think this is actually happening and how quickly its moving. Like, every other week it seems they are making visible, substantial progress.

Are they going to put fences up or something on the sides of the land bridges? You know people are gonna accidentally let go of a dog, or someone is going to kick a ball real hard, or throw a disc too high and its going to go over. I was wondering that once I saw the height of the land bridge. 

Edited by X.R.
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edit: oh i see what you mean...some kind of fence at the edge of the bridge where it ends over the road/tunnel entrance...heck yeah, they better! I can just see exactly what you are saying happening! 

 

 

From what i knew the land bridges are open to everyone to cross and even have picnics on as i remember somewhere they spoke about how from the top of the land bridge you would be able to have great views of both downtown and uptown...

Edited by gene
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Someone is going to ruin it for the rest of us...and they will prob put some sort of fencing or barrier...I can see delinquents dropping objects on cars or doing some crazy stunts for a TikTok video.

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1 hour ago, Naviguessor said:

I've decided to believe that this is being designed by professionals who know what they are doing, know how to spot risks and know how to mitigate them.  It's the same people who decided not to populate the Eastern Glades lake with Crocodiles and chose crushed granite rather than crushed glass for the running trails.  

But remember, those same people have opted out of using kangaroos, elephants and koala bears!!!! How fun would that have been!!!???!!!??? so don't give them tooOoOoOooOOoo much credit...

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1 hour ago, wilcal said:

The land bridge I saw, I believe in Alberta, which is used exclusively by animals still had a fence on it I believe. Basically, I would count on a fence. 

So... you think you saw a land bridge and you think it might have been in Alberta and you think it might have had a fence?   Good to know.   🙄

https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/banffs-famed-wildlife-overpasses-turn-20-world-looks-canada-conservation-inspiration

The fencing (on both the bridges and the entire roadway) in Alberta, is there to eliminate deadly collisions between vehicles and wildlife (deadly for wildlife as well as humans).  Pretty different situation from the bridges being built in Memorial Park

My best guess is:  No fencing.  

I don't recall this video being posted here.  

Edited by Houston19514
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1 hour ago, Houston19514 said:

So... you think you saw a land bridge and you think it might have been in Alberta and you think it might have had a fence?   Good to know.   🙄

https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/banffs-famed-wildlife-overpasses-turn-20-world-looks-canada-conservation-inspiration

The fencing (on both the bridges and the entire roadway) in Alberta, is there to eliminate deadly collisions between vehicles and wildlife (deadly for wildlife as well as humans).  Pretty different situation from the bridges being built in Memorial Park

My best guess is:  No fencing.  

I don't recall this video being posted here.  

Hey, you found the exact bridge I remembered and it was exactly the way I thought it was. Nice work!

Memorial Park has mentioned that the land bridge is designed to be used by animals to avoid having to cross Memorial Drive. 

I'll argue that I'm guessing a certain % of Memorial Park users are dumber than the average wildlife.

That video shows it with a raised concrete edge at some points and a flush edge at others. 

Edited by wilcal
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14 hours ago, Pumapayam said:

Someone is going to ruin it for the rest of us...and they will prob put some sort of fencing or barrier...I can see delinquents dropping objects on cars or doing some crazy stunts for a TikTok video.

Wait a second, did nobody acknowledge Puma's return to the HAIF? Welcome back.

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Y'all get into some strange specifics sometimes. Wow look at that crazy land bridge.....wait where is the railing, oh you know someone is going to muck that up!

There will more than likely be a railing. Obvious can't confirm as I'm not on this project, but my professional opinion would say, yes indeed due to code reasons on multiple fronts, its also above a busy rode you will see a railing, and given what I've seen the design packets floating around they will probably make it flow seamlessly with the design. Only thing I don't know is if one would be able to walk up to it. I imagine the edges around and up to the pinnacle of the bridge will be extensively landscaped.

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On 6/15/2021 at 11:58 AM, wilcal said:

Hey, you found the exact bridge I remembered and it was exactly the way I thought it was. Nice work!

Memorial Park has mentioned that the land bridge is designed to be used by animals to avoid having to cross Memorial Drive. 

I'll argue that I'm guessing a certain % of Memorial Park users are dumber than the average wildlife.

That video shows it with a raised concrete edge at some points and a flush edge at others. 

I agree that humans are capable of doing stupid things.
They've done them before. There was that horrifying incident on the Southwest Freeway a few years ago when someone lobbed a large rock off an overpass. The young mother whose car it hit was killed. 
OTOH, look at how many pedestrian overpasses cross Houston highways already. Many have no barriers in place to prevent mischief-makers from doing the same thing. Fortunately, very few take advantage of this opportunity, and I don't see why the overpass at Memorial Park would somehow be more of a temptation than those that already exist.

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Memorial Park land bridge takes big step forward with new tunnels

The Memorial Park land bridge that will add 25 acres of native prairie over six lanes of traffic has reached a construction milestone: Two pairs of concrete tunnel tubes are in place with 500,000 cubic yards of dirt piled on top.

Passersby essentially see four giant mounds of dirt where Houstonians used to run, walk and play, but it’s now possible to envision how people and wildlife can traverse the north and south sides of the park safely and in an environment true to the city’s origin as Gulf Coast prairie.

Thomas Woltz, owner and principal at the Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architecture firm that developed the park’s master plan and designed the land bridge over Memorial Drive, said that the project and others like it elsewhere are a timely answer to urban density and encroaching freeways.

“We’re in a fascinating moment where we have built our cities without generous planning of public spaces, unfortunately, and this is across America, not just Houston,” Woltz said. “We build buildings and look for where we can make public green space. It’s where we find ourselves as a nation.

“It occurs to us, what if the landscape could become triumphant over the gray infrastructure of an urban city? What if we could lift people, plants, prairie and wildlife up and over this tear through the public park?” Woltz said. “We basically are generating new acreage of parkland above the highway. It’s the park triumphing over the highway.”

The work

Work on the concrete arches began in late 2020, with 18-wheelers trucking in six-foot sections of formed concrete to create long tunnels through which three lanes of traffic will run, eastbound and westbound. Within months, new roadways that will replace the existing sections of Memorial Drive were poured, and by early summer, the dirt was dumped on top of the structure. Some is still exposed, waiting for waterproofing before it, too, is covered in dirt.

Much of the work is being driven by a $70 million donation from the Kinder Foundation, which also loaned its director of parks and greenspace, Sarah Newbery, to work alongside Memorial Park Conservancy staff.

By the first quarter of 2022, drivers — some 55,000 vehicles travel through the park on Memorial Drive daily — will be routed onto the new lanes and through the tunnels, first the eastbound lanes and later the westbound lanes. The old roads will return to usable parkland, contributing even more acres of prairie grasses.

A new basin that will be a “wet prairie” was created when the construction crew dug up dirt to cover the concrete tubes; it will provide a place for water to go during heavy rains. Top soil stored there already has an initial cover crop planting to improve the soil and prepare it for the native prairie plantings that will come later.

Though the tunnels will open to traffic early next year, the whole project — part of a 100-acre section of the park’s master plan — won’t be ready for Houstonians to venture onto it until late 2022.

The land bridge will benefit wildlife and humans alike, with lawnlike space and benches, in addition to the native plantings. Houstonians may often refer to their city as being built on a swamp, but the reality is that much of the area was Gulf Coast prairie, a vanishing ecosystem.

Conservation efforts

What’s important to Newbery and Memorial Park Conservancy president Shellye Arnold is that both the work at the recently completed Eastern Glades project and this land bridge help make the park more resilient to drought and flooding, something that will ultimately will help the city, too.

After Hurricane Harvey, soil samples taken in various places around the city found that soil from Memorial Park ended up as far away as the Houston Ship Channel. Randy Odinet, vice president of capital projects and facilities at the park conservancy, said that a major storm like Harvey can erode the banks of the section of Buffalo Bayou that runs through the park by 15 feet, sending soil and silt wherever the water goes.

Prairie grasses help because their roots can run 8 to 12 feet deep, so the soil absorbs more water and allows less erosion. If soil stays in the park, it won’t contribute to flooding in neighborhoods or waterways elsewhere. The grasses also naturally combat carbon emissions, helping clean the air.

Though it can take five to seven years for a prairie ecosystem to truly establish, Newbery said the new plantings will draw wildlife, birds and even insects that once thrived here but are long gone from the park.

Hines Lake in the park’s Eastern Glades is one example. When that section of the park re-opened with the small lake and wetlands, it quickly became the home of a pair of Least Grebe water birds, who nested and hatched chicks. The pair returned this year and can be seen there now, swimming with their chicks.

Woltz is excited that some of the land is returning to its origins, grasslands where Karankawa Indians once lived and even conducted controlled burns to generate new growth that drew bison to their hunting grounds.

Parks and green spaces where people can gather for exercise or community are more important than ever, he said.

“COVID has really taught us that public access to nature should no longer be considered a ‘nice to have,’ it’s an ‘essential to have’ for our psychological and physical well being,” Woltz said. “I feel like access to public landscape and nature should be part of our democratic rights, along with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

diane.cowen@chron.com

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/lifestyle/article/Memorial-Park-land-bridge-hits-visible-milestone-16444614.php

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On 4/7/2021 at 12:55 AM, hindesky said:

The old Camp Logan.

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I didn't realize until now that it looks like they are removing the Memorial street connection.

I hope they also improve the left turn going on to the W Memorial Look Dr. There is a major backup of traffic there because the lights aren't synced so only about 5 cars are able to wait in the median.

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On 9/6/2021 at 1:48 PM, innerloop said:

The tunnel end transitions are progressing slowly. They've installed six of the eight with the two most westwardly left to do.

And there hasn't been any visible progress on the reroute of the jogging trail along that part of Memorial. 

the jogging trails are being moved soon, they are going where the contractors are storing all the dirt they are using to fill in around the tunnels. It's almost nice enough weather for me to return to the Park. Forget that jogging slowly in 90 degee heat stuff... lol

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On 9/10/2021 at 12:44 PM, Triton said:

I didn't realize until now that it looks like they are removing the Memorial street connection.

I hope they also improve the left turn going on to the W Memorial Look Dr. There is a major backup of traffic there because the lights aren't synced so only about 5 cars are able to wait in the median.

I think it's still there, it's just shown as covered with a lot of trees. It looks like it a long gradual curve now though?

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On 9/10/2021 at 12:44 PM, Triton said:

I didn't realize until now that it looks like they are removing the Memorial street connection.

I hope they also improve the left turn going on to the W Memorial Look Dr. There is a major backup of traffic there because the lights aren't synced so only about 5 cars are able to wait in the median.

looks to me like there's a complete re alignment and a traffic circle.

wwr0PKc.jpg

 

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i would be checking it out on my bike but my bike was stolen from my condo's supposedly very secure garage last week (my supposedly very secure lock was cut as well...oy!)...🚳

so yeah...thanks in advance everyone for holding a fundraiser car wash as soon as the weather gets better 🤪

 

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5 hours ago, samagon said:

looks to me like there's a complete re alignment and a traffic circle.

wwr0PKc.jpg

 

I guess let me clarify, there is still a connection there but it looks more like a lane to get you to the parking area as opposed to a direct road as it is now which sort of surprised me. I hadn't noticed that before.

 

17 hours ago, Tumbleweed_Tx said:

it's still there, it still sucks balls, and it's been made worse by the lanes being cut down to two.

The solution to the problem is having a small median there so traffic turning left doesn't have to go through two lights.

Yea, there really needs to be a better solution here. Would have been cool if they made a small tunnel under the other side of Memorial for the left turn lane to go under or something.

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6 hours ago, samagon said:

looks to me like there's a complete re alignment and a traffic circle.

wwr0PKc.jpg

 

Speaking of, I have not heard anything about them building the bike loop in the west part of the park (right next to the highlighted portion of memorial dr). I know that the picnic loop will be going away as part of their whole re-do with the land bridge (replaced with more walking/MTB trails). Sounds like the park will be without a dedicated biking area for at least a few years if they havent' even announced things :( 

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3 hours ago, Triton said:

I guess let me clarify, there is still a connection there but it looks more like a lane to get you to the parking area as opposed to a direct road as it is now which sort of surprised me. I hadn't noticed that before.

 

Yea, there really needs to be a better solution here. Would have been cool if they made a small tunnel under the other side of Memorial for the left turn lane to go under or something.

I would presume they had done the traffic studies and decided the number of people taking Memorial was a small enough number.

or maybe the people who live on Memorial on the other side of 610 didn't like it being used as a through road so lobbied for the designers to insert the traffic circle to divert most of the traffic to Woodway.

either way, I presume that Woodway can handle the traffic.

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On 9/13/2021 at 9:55 AM, gene said:

i would be checking it out on my bike but my bike was stolen from my condo's supposedly very secure garage last week (my supposedly very secure lock was cut as well...oy!)...🚳

so yeah...thanks in advance everyone for holding a fundraiser car wash as soon as the weather gets better 🤪

 

Sorry to hear that.  Few things suck worse than having your bike stolen.

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