By: Tim Hodes, P.E.
Practice Area Leader | Construction Phase Services
EHRA Engineering provides solutions to complex issues throughout the life cycle of the project. Starting with feasibility and preliminary design, continuing with the preparation of construction documents, and throughout the complete construction process, EHRA provides individualized and creative design solutions as well as outside-the-box field solutions for our clients and stakeholders.
EHRA was selected by the Old Sixth Ward Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ 13 to provide design and construction documents for the rehabilitation of Sabine Street near downtown Houston.
Historic Sabine Street consists of a very narrow 28-foot right-of-way (ROW). The original Sabine Street was designed as an undivided roadway and was limited to 17 feet in width measured from face-of-curb. Beyond the vehicular way, the remainder of the ROW allowed for minimal clearance for a 5-foot sidewalk on each side of the roadway. After decades of use and various repairs, Sabine Street’s utility systems, historic stone curbs, and brick roadway and sidewalks required complete restoration. Throughout the design and construction process, the EHRA team provided close coordination with the City of Houston, the TIRZ, and affected property owners. This created several unique design challenges along the way.
From the intersection with Lubbock Street and north up to Washington Avenue, the Sabine Street project required (1) the complete redesign and rehabilitation of the outdated and undersized buried utilities along Sabine Street to conform to current infrastructure standards, (2) a detailed accessibility analysis and design of the sidewalks and driveways throughout to provide a fully ADA compliant pedestrian environment, including adding curb ramps at all intersections, (3) formulation of a brick reclamation process to protect and save as many of the existing historic bricks and stone curbs as possible, and (4) specifying retaining walls as necessary throughout the project limits to protect private properties and ensure an ADA compliant environment.
The historic brick reclamation process included cleaning, organizing, and re-laying each brick by hand. Approximately 55,000 bricks were preserved and reclaimed from Sabine Street during construction. However, more bricks were needed to complete the project. The EHRA team worked closely with the City to locate and acquire an additional 15,000 local historic bricks stored in a City warehouse. EHRA personnel visited the warehouse with sample reclaimed bricks and hand selected the additional needed bricks based on the best match from what was available. Some of these bricks used to supplement were slightly larger than those from Sabine Street. Therefore, each brick was individually measured, and hand cut as necessary to match the size of the original Sabine Street bricks.
The stone curbs needed to be supplemented as well. Of the 910 feet of historic stone curbing along Sabine Street, over 75% was reclaimed. Supplemented curbs used to complete the project were reclaimed from an existing area in East Downtown, as they were a strong match to the same installation for this project.
During final placement of the bricks and curbing, EHRA worked closely with the TIRZ to make final cement and grout selections to fill gaps and joints. The attention to detail in this final phase of construction, such as grout placement between the stone curbs and brick sidewalks, enhanced the aesthetics of the pavers and provided the final touch to a fully functional and complete reconstruction project.
“Transparent communication with the TIRZ and City of Houston and continued public outreach were key to helping local Houstonians maintain the continuity and aesthetic appeal of this historic street,” Tim Hodes, PE, EHRA Practice Area Leader said of the successful project. “EHRA was pleased to be a key partner in the process, working with adjacent property owners and developing relationships with several homeowners to ensure all stakeholders were kept in the loop throughout this project.”