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November 16, 2018 1:26:44 PM CST

Coordinated Construction to Begin on Buffalo Speedway, Ardmore and Stella Link Bridge Modifications at Brays Bayou

The Harris County Flood Control District will begin coordinated construction November 19 to modify or replace three existing bridges over Brays Bayou with new higher, wider and/or longer spans that will improve the conveyance of stormwater along Brays Bayou in south central Harris County. Construction begins November 19 with the closure of both the Buffalo Speedway and Ardmore Street bridges.

The Buffalo Speedway, Ardmore Street and Stella Link bridges will be the 18th, 19th and 20th bridge modifications constructed by the Flood Control District as part of $480 million Project Brays, a cooperative effort between the Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Project Brays includes the widening of 21 miles of Brays Bayou in 13 separate channel modification project segments, the modification of 32 bridges, and the construction of four stormwater detention basins with a combined capacity of 3.5 billion gallons. (A new bridge over Brays Bayou at Forest Hill Boulevard has been under construction since July 2018. The final segment of channel modifications as part of Project Brays, between Loop 610 and Fondren Road in the Meyerland area, also has been under construction since the summer of 2018.)

In August 2018, Harris County Commissioners Court awarded two construction contracts to lowest qualified bidder James Construction Group for this latest bridge work – a $6,625,343 contract for the Buffalo Speedway bridge, and a $7,889,508 contract for the Stella Link Road and Ardmore Street bridges.

Construction of all three bridges will be coordinated to reduce traffic disruptions:

  • Buffalo Speedway and Stella Link Road bridges will not be closed at the same time.
  • All lanes of the Buffalo Speedway bridge will be closed for approximately one year. The main detour through this area will be via Kirby Drive and Stella Link Road.
  • All lanes of the Ardmore Street bridge also will be closed for approximately a year and a half. The main detour through this area will be via Scott Street and State Highway 288.
  • Stella Link Road bridges will not be closed to traffic until the Buffalo Speedway bridge is reopened.
  • All Stella Link Road traffic will be shifted to one of the Stella Link Road bridges while the other is under construction.

Residents and motorists are encouraged to remain alert to changing conditions, and to pay attention to all posted lane closure and detour signs.

The upcoming bridge projects include these major components:

Buffalo Speedway bridge:

  • Demolish and replace the existing bridge with a higher, wider and longer three-span bridge
  • Replace the approaches from North and South Braeswood boulevards.
  • Add dedicated turn lanes in both directions on the bridge and on approaches to the bridge from North and South Braeswood boulevards
  • Add wider 10-foot sidewalks with shared-use bicycle paths
  • Excavate approximately 11,000 cubic yards of material underneath the bridge to match existing channel width
  • Remove and replace storm sewer systems, water line and force main

Ardmore Street bridge:

  • Demolish and replace the existing bridge with a higher and wider three-span bridge
  • Replace approaches and intersections
  • Add a dedicated U-turn lane across the bridge from South MacGregor Way to North MacGregor Way
  • Add wider 10-foot sidewalks with shared-use bicycle paths
  • Construct new channel retaining walls
  • Excavate approximately 10,000 cubic yards of material underneath the bridge to match existing channel width
  • Remove and replace storm sewer systems, water line and force main

Stella Link Road bridges:

  • Extend existing bridges 50 feet to the south
  • Replace southbound approach
  • Construct new channel retaining walls
  • Excavate approximately 20,000 cubic yards of material underneath the bridge to match existing channel width
  • Remove and replace storm sewer systems and water line

These projects benefited from an agreement with the City of Houston, which in 2017 committed to borrowing $46 million from the Texas Water Development Board to accelerate work on Project Brays. Although construction will instead likely be financed from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding approved after Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston agreement allowed the Flood Control District to move ahead more quickly on the projects.

When Project Brays is complete, it is expected to provide a 1 percent (100-year) level of flood protection upstream (west) of the Sam Houston Tollway. In areas downstream (east) of the tollway, Project Brays will reduce the number structures at risk from a 1 percent (100-year) flood from 16,800 to 1,800.