A Look at Downtown Houston’s Historic Bridges

As the City’s 2nd oldest civil engineering firm, EHRA Engineering’s Transportation & Structures Departments have designed countless road and bridge projects within the Houston region for over 77 years. Having such an established and tenured relationship with Houston’s infrastructure, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the City’s nationally registered historical bridges.

Houston’s historical bridges are monuments to the local culture that built them. With that in mind, lets take a closer look at a few of Houston’s nationally registered historic bridges:

Hill Street Bridge

Also known as “Jensen Drive Bridge” over Buffalo Bayou S. Jensen Dr. at Buffalo Bayou, Houston (GPS Coordinates: 29°45′40″N 95°20′36″W)

Hill Street Bridge, Jensen Drive Bridge, houston bridges, historical houston bridges,old buffalo bayou bridges, downtown houston bridges, houston structural engineers, national register of historic places in texas, old bridge, houston civil engineering, houston civil engineers, houston civil engineering history

Hill Street Bridge spans Buffalo Bayou

The four-lane Hill Street Bridge is over 450 ft. in length and spans approximately 140 ft. over the Buffalo Bayou at Jensen Drive. The bridge which was originally built in 1938 by Russ Mitchell, Inc., features a haunched steel stringer construction. The bridge is still in service today and handles approximately 10,900 in average daily traffic.

Quick Facts:

  • Built in 1938
  • Was listed on the national register of historic places in Texas in October of 2007.
  • Built by: Russ Mitchell, Inc.

McKee Street Bridge
Located at McKee St. and Buffalo Bayou, Houston (GPS Coordinates: 29°45′57″N 95°21′7″W)

McKee Street bridge, houston bridges, historical houston bridges,old buffalo bayou bridges, downtown houston bridges, houston structural engineers, national register of historic places in texas, old bridge, houston civil engineering, houston civil engineers, houston civil engineering history

Historic McKee Street Bridge

The four-lane, 290 ft. long McKee Street Bridge spans the Buffalo Bayou, and features a rather unique reinforced concrete through-girder design. The unique bridge design was a direct result of the challenge to create a bridge that could not only accommodate small watercraft navigating the bayou, but also adapt to the sharp angle of the bayou. The bridge was originally built in 1932 for a price tag of approximately $120,000 (using money set aside from a 1929 bridge bond issue). When it was constructed, the McKee Street Bridge was widely considered to have the longest main of its type in the nation and actually appeared in multiple engineering publications.

McKee Street Bridge, houston bridges, historical houston bridges,old buffalo bayou bridges, downtown houston bridges, houston structural engineers, national register of historic places in texas, old bridge, houston civil engineering, houston civil engineers, houston civil engineering history

Original Drawings of the McKee Street Bridge

The bridge was designed by city bridge engineer Joseph Gordon McKenzie, and built by general contractor Don Hall Constructors Inc . This unique historically significant bridge is the only known example of a reinforced concrete through-girder design in the state of Texas.

Quick Facts:

  • Built in 1932
  • Was listed on the national register of historic places in Texas in September of 2002.
  • Engineer: Joesph Gordon McKenzie.
  • Builder: Don Hall Constructors Inc.
  • Architectural Style: Modern

Sabine Street Bridge
Sabine St. at Buffalo Bayou, Houston (GPS Coordinates: 29°45′40.75″N 95°22′31.5″W)

Sabine Street bridge, houston bridges, historical houston bridges,old buffalo bayou bridges, downtown houston bridges, houston structural engineers, national register of historic places in texas, old bridge, houston civil engineering, houston civil engineers, houston civil engineering history

Sabine Street Bridge


The two-lane Sabine Street Bridge is 240 ft. in length and spans 40 ft. over the Buffalo Bayou. There was a footbridge across Buffalo Bayou near Sabine Street as early as 1891, which connect the historic Fourth Ward to the Sixth Ward. However the Sabine Street Bridge as we know it today was actually built in 1924. The bridge was designed by city bridge engineer W. W. Washburn and features a concrete tee beam construction. The bridge is still in service today and handles approximately 1,090 in average daily traffic. The Sabine Street Bridge is the last remaining concrete bridge remaining from the City of Houston’s 1920 civic improvement program.

Quick Facts:

  • Year Built: 1924
  • Was listed on the national register of historic places in Texas in September 2007.
  • Engineer: W.W. Washburn

San Jacinto Street Bridge
San Jacinto St. at Buffalo Bayou, Houston (GPS Coordinates: 29°45′47.75″N 95°21′27″W)

Sabine Street bridge, houston bridges, historical houston bridges,old buffalo bayou bridges, downtown houston bridges, houston structural engineers, national register of historic places in texas, old bridge, houston civil engineering, houston civil engineers, houston civil engineering history

San Jacinto Street Bridge

The four-lane San Jacinto Street Bridge features a concrete arch bridge that has a total length of over 320 ft. and spans approximately 110 ft. over the Buffalo Bayou. The bridge is a great example of an open spandrel barrel arch. The bridge which was originally built in 1914 was recently rehabilitated in 1996. The bridge is still in service today and handles approximately 6,600 in average daily traffic.

Quick Facts:

  • Year Built: 1914
  • Was listed on the national register of historic places in Texas in October of 2007

For additional information and more historical bridges in the Houston area, check out:

Written By: Jim Russ
Find Jim on Google+
Jim Russ is Principal and Executive Vice President of EHRA Engineering

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s