Brays Bayou Trail Update Sept 4, 2019
The Brays Bayou Trail is a continuous trail from southwest Houston to the Houston Ship Channel., It begins at Keegan’s Bayou at South Kirkwood Road near West Bellfort in far southwest Houston and Harris County and ends where Brays Bayou enters Buffalo Bayou. This east-west trail connects residents of southwest Houston to many areas along Brays Bayou, including the Medical Center, Hermann Park, Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater, Rice University, MacGregor Park, Texas Southern University, University of Houston, and Mason Park. The focus of NTTSW is the section of the bayou trail from IH-610 to Fondren. Residents of southwest Houston will eventually be able to access this trail system from our neighborhoods due to the connectivity we are trying to accomplish.
The widening of Brays Bayou as part of Project Brays being implemented by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) continues and will stop just past the Fondren bridge for now.. Currently bayou widening is nearing completion throughout the section from IH-610 to Fondren. In the process, the existing hike and bike trail is being torn out but HCFCD is replacing it with a concrete 10 feet wide trail.The Houston Parks Board (HPB) will add additional sections of the trail to ensure a continuous hike and bike trail on the south side of the bayou. In a few years, HPB plans to extend the trail on the north side of the bayou from Chimney Rock to HIllcroft (Bayou Greenways Brays Bayou #4502). Project Brays will now be replacing the trail on the north side from IH-610 to Chimney Rock which was taken out as a result of the bayou widening. The completion of Project Brays, including all the bridge work is planned for 2021. The bayou trail previously required walkers and bicyclists to cross South Rice Ave, Chimney Rock Rd, and HIllcroft Ave at the bridges in order to continue on the trail. These streets and bridges are prone to suffer from heavy traffic. HPB plans to add additional trail sections to pass under all three bridges as part of a new continuous south-side trail from Greenwillow to Fondren. Hence, trail users will have the option of continuing on the trail without needing to cross streets.
NTTSW has long had safety concerns about the narrow walkways on Hillcroft, South Rice, and Chimney Rock bridges. Currently, the width of the walkways on all three bridges is 46 inches. This is too narrow for couples, mothers with strollers, children, and bicyclists. The danger for pedestrians is falling into the high traffic street or for bicyclists to fall over the low railing into the bayou. HCFCD has confirmed the South Rice and Chimney Rock bridges will be replaced as part of Project Brays. The new bridges will have 6-10 foot wide sidewalks. There are no plans to replace the Hillcroft or Fondren bridges. The Hillcroft bridge over the bayou will be raised by 15 inches. NTTSW has advocated for addition of a regular sidewalk on the HIllcroft bridge. The City of Houston and HCFCD have agreed to include an overlay and regular sidewalk on the bridge and are seeking bids from contractors. The raising will most likely occur in summer 2020.
NTTSW is concerned with safe access to the Brays Bayou trail. Three sites have been identified by area residents as dangerous street crossings: