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Hike And Bike Bridge Is Burning


s3mh

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The hike and bike bridge over White Oak Bayou near Studemont is on fire.  The fire is on the north side of the bayou.  Homeless people have been camping out under the bridge on that side.  It looks like that may be where the fire started.  I really hope they do not have to close the bridge down.  The hike and bike trail is one of the few things we have left to do during the pandemic.  

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I was looking at the construction camera at The Allen when I saw the black smoke almost due north. Started looking for incidents reports and saw one for the area near Clarks Hardwood store. Thought it might have been that but then watched the news. This is going to be a major inconvenience for all the cyclist, joggers and anyone who uses that trail.:wacko:

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Seems like they were able to put it out quickly once they were able to get hoses down there.  The wood is over 100 years old.  Hopefully, some fire damage won't affect the structural integrity.  They already replaced one of the trestles in the middle of the bridge and did not have to close it down during the work.  Fingers crossed.

 

https://theleadernews.com/fire-department-battles-blaze-under-heights-bridge/

 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Fire-erupts-under-White-Oak-Bayou-bridge-15495693.php#photo-19830950

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4 hours ago, cspwal said:

Looks like on Google Maps detouring to Heights BLVD (on-street bike lane) is a 3/4 mile detour

If your destination is downtown, there is a quicker detour to the trail along White Oak Bayou via Stude Park.  This does require a short amount of on-street riding, but it is not too bad.

detour.jpg

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2 hours ago, s3mh said:

Seems like they were able to put it out quickly once they were able to get hoses down there.  The wood is over 100 years old.  Hopefully, some fire damage won't affect the structural integrity.  They already replaced one of the trestles in the middle of the bridge and did not have to close it down during the work.  Fingers crossed.

 

https://theleadernews.com/fire-department-battles-blaze-under-heights-bridge/

 

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Fire-erupts-under-White-Oak-Bayou-bridge-15495693.php#photo-19830950

I rode past it on my bike and as of 4PM, it was still smoldering and they were still putting water on it.  But I agree, the damage is surprisingly minor, at least superficially.  Hopefully the follow-up inspection will reveal no significant loss of integrity of the wood.  I wonder if there was some kind of fireproofing that had been applied to the wood long ago?

20200819_160031.jpg

Edited by EaDo Lou
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42 minutes ago, cspwal said:

They probably have a lot of spare capacity, since it was originally built for trains and now the heaviest thing that goes over it is an electric cargo bike

 

Good point.  From a load perspective, the loss of a trestle or two is no big deal since the original design loads were significantly higher.  However, there is still a requirement that the deflections/vertical displacement in the concrete be kept below a certain maximum value in order to prevent cracks from developing and possibly allowing water to enter the cracks and corrode the internal rebar.  Thus, the loss of support could be a problem in that regards.  But it appears the supports are still in pretty good shape even after the fire, and if so, I would imagine they could open up the bridge fairly quickly.

Edited by EaDo Lou
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Not to be a debby downer but I will not be surprised if this is closed for months. Perhaps they'll reopen this right about the same time they open the park on the hill. It does suck but at least there are alternatives, and many good suggestions in here at that.

 

But whatever you do, do not cross on the Studemont bridge. Too incredibly narrow on the "sidewalk" and cars drive too fast to even consider biking on the road, imo.

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How high (or how fast would the flow rate have to be) would the bayou have to be to cause the bridge to collapse? We could see a tropical storm/hurricane next Monday/Tuesday. 

 

I took these photos during Imelda last September. 

IMG_1426.jpg

IMG_1425.jpg

Edited by TacoDog
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1 hour ago, TacoDog said:

How high (or how fast would the flow rate have to be) would the bayou have to be to cause the bridge to collapse? We could see a tropical storm/hurricane next Monday/Tuesday. 

 

 

There are equations for calculating the forces imposed by moving water (see https://www.bgstructuralengineering.com/BGASCE7/BGASCE7006/BGASCE70604.htm#:~:text=Hydrodynamic loads are those load,the effects of breaking waves.).  Large debris in the water, such as trees, vehicles, etc would be even worse.  If the fire reduced the strength of the trestles well below their capacity to withstand these forces, I would say it might be possible to at least partially collapse the bridge.  But I would say that is an unlikely scenario.  But you never know.  It will be interesting to see what happens if we do get a flood next week.

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On 8/19/2020 at 6:37 PM, EaDo Lou said:

If your destination is downtown, there is a quicker detour to the trail along White Oak Bayou via Stude Park.  This does require a short amount of on-street riding, but it is not too bad.

detour.jpg

 

Rather than crossing myself, kissing St. Chris, taking a deep breath, and diving into the Studewood Death Race, my recommendation is to continue down White Oak and pick up the trail to downtown either from Michaux or directly off of White Oak a couple more blocks further on down.

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1 hour ago, august948 said:

Weren't they planning a connector from the trail north of the bridge to Stude Park?

Yes, though it's been in "planning" for years it seems 🙄 Part of the issue was getting Army Corps of Engineers approval on the minor bridge crossing that would be required. As of early this year, I heard rumors that progress was being made on moving forward with a connection but I imagine that's changed now...

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19 minutes ago, twisterhunt said:

Yes, though it's been in "planning" for years it seems 🙄 Part of the issue was getting Army Corps of Engineers approval on the minor bridge crossing that would be required. As of early this year, I heard rumors that progress was being made on moving forward with a connection but I imagine that's changed now...

I remember hearing of that connection when I first moved in this area and it was always around the corner............ back in 2012.

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1 hour ago, twisterhunt said:

Yes, though it's been in "planning" for years it seems 🙄 Part of the issue was getting Army Corps of Engineers approval on the minor bridge crossing that would be required. As of early this year, I heard rumors that progress was being made on moving forward with a connection but I imagine that's changed now...

 

Maybe this will bring some focus to the problem and help move it along.  It'd be helpful to have that connection right now.

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That connection would be great because it gives you the option of avoiding that target parking lot and crossing houston avenue and all the intersections on spring street. That's whole stretch can be slow and sketchy and crossing at stude would bypass all of it.

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  • 3 weeks later...
4 minutes ago, flatline said:

There appears to be at least one new steel truss installed on the bridge.

So I believe that was installed a few years ago - and now they are setting up scaffolding and work space to inspect fire damage to see what else needs to be done.

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On 9/7/2020 at 8:30 AM, BigRed said:

So I believe that was installed a few years ago - and now they are setting up scaffolding and work space to inspect fire damage to see what else needs to be done.

 

The steel truss in the middle of the bridge was just completed a few months ago.  They were able to keep the bridge open while they worked on it.  Hopefully once they figure out what needs to be done to repair the fire damage they will be able to keep the bridge open while they work on it.  

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  • 1 month later...

I called the parks board and asked for an update on when this bridge will be opening back up.  I was shocked to learn that it has sustained major structural damage and will need to be replaced.  On top of that, there's no funding for a new bridge, so it's not opening back up for a long, long time.  If you're wondering what you can do about this, contact your councilperson and ask for discretionary funds to be diverted to this project.

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That area has always been the no-man's-land (or Berlin Wall, if you prefer) of Houston. The only accommodations for crossing the bayou are either distant or strictly reserved for auto traffic (as in the case of the Studemont bridge -see photo). Biking a mile or two out of your way may not be a major inconvenience but for pedestrians, it's a killer.
All I can say is this is what happens when a city is built on the cheap. It eventually comes back to bite us in the butt.

https://www.google.com/maps/@29.7781025,-95.3873417,3a,75y,359.44h,95.57t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sLHEtm_RnVkm5GFkYEK6Wsg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en

 

Edited by dbigtex56
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1 hour ago, TrainTrak said:

I called the parks board and asked for an update on when this bridge will be opening back up.  I was shocked to learn that it has sustained major structural damage and will need to be replaced.  On top of that, there's no funding for a new bridge, so it's not opening back up for a long, long time.  If you're wondering what you can do about this, contact your councilperson and ask for discretionary funds to be diverted to this project.

 

This makes me sick. That bridge was such an important connector.

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Bugging CMs and maybe even Shelia Jackson Lee's office.  I know many are triggered by the mention of SJL.  But if there are federal funds available in a new stimulus bill, SJL is pretty good at bringing home the bacon.  If this goes through the usual capital improvement process, it could be a decade before it gets replaced.  

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Rodney Ellis is an avid cyclist and supporter of the local bike trails. Contact his office too even though it's not in his precinct. Maybe he can influence Judge Hidalgo to send some funds toward bridge replacement. Also, if HCFCD is doing any work on that channel, it may have been due for replacement in the future.

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CoH has some COVID relief funds that they have to spend by the end of the year. I wonder if they can use some to provide for this social-distancing approved method of transportation?

2 hours ago, TrainTrak said:

I called the parks board and asked for an update on when this bridge will be opening back up.  I was shocked to learn that it has sustained major structural damage and will need to be replaced.  On top of that, there's no funding for a new bridge, so it's not opening back up for a long, long time.  If you're wondering what you can do about this, contact your councilperson and ask for discretionary funds to be diverted to this project.

 

This is what I got from them 6 days ago when I asked:

 

Quote

our structural engineer completed their assessment and submitted a report to us and HPARD. We are now jointly reviewing it with HPARD and are considering the next steps for potential repairs. Once we have an agreement with HPARD on next steps, we will send out a public email notification 

 

So pretty much in line with what you heard. Sigh :(

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  • 1 month later...

Looks like the bridge can be repaired and replacement is not necessary.  Repairs should take 45-60 days once the parks board has permitting approval from the City, corps of engineers and HCFCD.  So, the bridge will probably re-open sometime in early 2032 (kidding).  Seriously, that seems like really good news.  

 

https://theleadernews.com/community/houston-parks-board-assesses-damage-to-pedestrian-bridge-seeks-approval-for-repairs/

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2 hours ago, s3mh said:

Looks like the bridge can be repaired and replacement is not necessary.  Repairs should take 45-60 days once the parks board has permitting approval from the City, corps of engineers and HCFCD.  So, the bridge will probably re-open sometime in early 2032 (kidding).  Seriously, that seems like really good news.  

 

https://theleadernews.com/community/houston-parks-board-assesses-damage-to-pedestrian-bridge-seeks-approval-for-repairs/

Great Christmas present! Seriously, this bridge is so critical to a lot of my biking.

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https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/transportation/article/Burned-bike-bridge-across-White-Oak-Bayou-to-15819274.php

Burned bike bridge across White Oak Bayou to undergo repairs, remain closed a few more months

Photo of Dug Begley
Dug Begley Dec. 21, 2020
Bike riders who pedal through the Heights will need to keep burning calories past a key connection closed by fire in the region’s growing trail system.Just in time for winter, however, parks officials at least have a plan to reopen the MKT bridge in place, news welcomed by local cyclists eager to cross easily over White Oak Bayou again.
640x0.jpg
 

“It’s just a killer to lose that bridge,” said Craig Arthur, 29, who bikes recreationally at least four days a week, often along the Heights Hike and Bike Trail. “I know a lot of people are wondering when it will reopen.”

The closest answer officials could give now is, probably in the spring. A glimmer of hope but also a long wait as cycling interest in the area grows.

As soon as Houston public works and engineering officials clear construction permits and verify the repair work, crews can repair abutments and slopes on the sides of the bridge, said Beth White, president and CEO of Houston Parks Board. Repairs would take between 45 and 60 days and cost about $100,000, paid for by the nonprofit parks board, which oversees the $220 million Bayou Greenways program.

The MKT bridge closed Aug. 19, when Houston firefighters responded to a call about a brush fire affecting the bridge. Crews arrived to find a small wooded area ablaze and charring the wooden beams of the bridge.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

This got a brief aside mention in the Bicycle Advisory Committee Infrastructure subcommittee meeting yesterday. 

Basically, probably not going to be open until the end of the year at the earliest. The new connector next to it has slid a month to January completion and it might be done before this reopens. 

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On 10/25/2020 at 11:32 PM, cspwal said:

Also, I'm not sure where to put it, but it looks like there is a new trail head being built.

f0ETsAM.jpg

 

Not the most relevant comment, but seeing again that construction costs for the Bayou Greenway Park were about $2 million.........right after I read about the new 59S/610N interchange going for $250+ million.  I know these are entirely different budgets/jurisdictions, but it's wild to think what would be possible if Bayou Greenways had an extra $250 million to spend on construction.  I'd be willing to bet it would have a greater economic impact on the city than a new freeway interchange.

https://houston.culturemap.com/news/city-life/06-01-21-610-loop-ramp-closing-us-59-southwest-freeway-june-3-june-9-txdot/

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16 hours ago, wilcal said:

Just got an email that everything is clear and construction will start at any time. Estimated repairs will take 60-90 days. 

Here's the full email for anyone that's curious.  90 days out of June 4 is September 2nd.  I'm taking the over on that but will be great to have that bridge opened up again.

Houston Parks Board has great news to share. As you know, the MKT hike-and-bike bridge has been closed due to damages sustained by a fire in August 2020.

Since then, at the request of the City, we have been working diligently on shepherding the repair plans through the permitting process.

We are pleased to share those plans have been approved, and repair activities on the site could start as early as this Friday, June 4.

Repairs include the replacement of damaged bridge piles, the abutment backwall, and deck expansion joint. The estimated time frame is 60-90 days, weather permitting.

Houston Parks Board appreciates the patience of surrounding community members and those who have been utilizing the detour for several months. The detour will remain in place during construction.

We understand the MKT bridge is an important connection for the Heights Hike and Bike Trail and White Oak Bayou Greenway, and we look forward to seeing you back out there soon!

Please let me know if you have any questions, and feel free to share this information with others in your community.

Thank you,

Lisa Kasianowitz
Outreach Manager
Houston Parks Board

300 North Post Oak Lane
Houston, TX 77024

lisa@houstonparksboard.org
T 713.942.8500 x14

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