Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

The Travis St. Bayou Portal

By: Tom Davis Category: Recent Posts, Sidewalk Art, Sidewalk Features

CIMG1450.JPGThe Travis St. Portal to Buffalo Bayou was built by the Cotswold Project as a pedestrian connection from the street down to a future walkway along the bayou. The winding, tree lined and lighted walkway is on the west side of  the Travis St. bridge on the south side of the bayou across the street from the Spaghetti Warehouse restaurant. The bayou bank was regraded and the walkway formed and poured in place. The winding concrete walkway was not a simple thing to build as the only straight edges are at the steps–everything else curves. I give a lot of credit to William Jones of Texas Sterling LLC, the general contractor, who removed concrete several times to “get it right”.

CIMG1445.JPGThis photo shows the stacked “canoes” on the street-level plaza that leads to the winding walkway down to the bayou surrounded by trees. The canoe sculpture in this portal is by John Runnels–a local artist who canoes on the Bayou and is a very accomplished artist in 2D and 3D mediums. He calls Mother Dog Studios home. His studio is a short walking distance from this portal and his sculptures.

The landscaping is irrigated and therefore is growing well. The tree in the circular space was a 10-inch caliper pecan tree when it was planted and it has grown well since then. It has been completely submerged several times as when a heavy rain occurs the Bayou floods and this area becomes underwater.

The selection of the large central tree is a neat story. This portal and the other one at Fannin St. are both native pecan trees. The plan is they will produce pecans that will fall in the bayou and be washed down stream, find a place on the bank and a new pecan tree will appear. I like to think that one day pecan trees will be scattered down the bayou and beyond the ship channel.

CIMG9304.JPGAn issue with this portal is that the walkway required steps and is too steep for a ramp to provide an accessible pathway to the bayou. Therefore we had to build an accessible walkway on the other side of the bridge. There is only a short distance between the points where both reach the bayou trail. The distance was short enough that TDLR (the Texas state agency that administers the ADA regulations) agreed it was an alternative path to the same destination.

With the additional accessible walkway we also modified the configuration of the adjacent Travis St. to allow cars to park at the bayou trail level. The lowest parking space is configured as accessible–the “handicap” space  to use the more common vernacular. I am very proud that this provides the only place I know where someone can drive to the bayou’s edge in a public place. This provides even more access to those that would like to be at the bayou’s edge but not take the two trails on either side of Travis Street.CIMG1448.JPG

The trail at the bayou’s edge is under construction as I post this article. That project is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation who is managing the construction of this great amenity. Who says a highway department can only build highways. Check back soon for an article about other interesting–IMHO–facts about this portal and photos of the new bayou trail.  Also watch for articles about the other two portals.


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