What is Project Brays?

Designed to reduce the risk of future flooding, the Brays Bayou Flood Damage Reduction Project, today known as Project Brays, is acooperative effort between the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers  that also incorporates local initiatives. Benefiting thousands of residents and businesses along Brays Bayou, Project Brays is the largest, most significant flood damage reduction initiative ever to be managed by HCFCD.

Project Brays consists of more than 75 individual projects throughout the entire 31 miles of Brays Bayou. The majority of these projects are part of the federal project and primarily aimed at reducing flood risks. However, a few projects are strictly local initiatives with the purpose of enhancing environmental and recreational elements along Brays Bayou.

What is the total project cost for Project Brays?

The total cost of Project Brays was originally estimated to be $550 million. Upon completion of approved components within the overall project, HCFCD can be reimbursed by the federal government for 50 percent of the completed cost.

What areas/communities will Project Brays benefit?

Neighborhoods within Bellaire, Houston, Southside Place, West University Place, Meadows Place, Missouri City and unincorporated areas of Harris County will see benefits from the project. The Texas Medical Center, Rice University, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Reliant Park and the Houston Zoo will also benefit from a reduced risk of flooding.

What partners/agencies are involved in Project Brays?

Project Brays is primarily a project of the Harris County Flood Control District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the risk of flooding. However, Project Brays presents a unique opportunity for other organizations to build upon the federal initiative and create local initiatives to enhance the project with other features beyond flood damage reduction. Others participating and providing support include: Harris County, City of Houston Public Works and Engineering Department, City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Greater Houston Partnership's Quality of Life Committee.

How does the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers participate in Project Brays?

The Corps' vast experience in flood damage reduction projects especially benefits Project Brays through the monitoring of design and construction according to set standards. Most importantly, without the Corps' participation, essential congressional funding might not be available and costs would have to be paid by local funding sources.

What visual and recreational features are being considered along the bayou?

Although the objective of HCFCD is to reduce the risk of flooding along Brays Bayou, with participation of strategic partners like the Harris County Commissioners and the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department, the communities can exercise many opportunities to add recreational amenities that help create a special place for neighbors and families to enjoy. In similar projects, community participation and strategic partnerships have resulted in the addition of features such as walking paths, bike trails and picnic areas.

What environmental considerations are part of this project?

During the planning of this project, HCFCD has paid close attention and found ways to minimize potential environmental impacts and enhance the natural environment. For instance, the proposed designs for bayou parkways and greenways include preserving or moving existing trees where possible, and planting thousands of new trees and shrubs  along the bayou. Water and wetland habitat are also a factor in the design phase of Project Brays. Throughout the construction phase, HCFCD continues to maintain proper respect for community and natural values.

How do you decide if you are going to plant trees?

  • If there are opportunities and funds for enhancing a project site
  • If conventional mowing is difficult or dangerous at project sites
  • If stormwater detention basins cannot be included in regular maintenance because of wet or soggy bottoms
  • If there are requirements for mitigation of environmental project impacts

How is it decided where new trees will be planted?

Sites are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Probability of developing an ecosystem that requires little maintenance
  • Probability of tree survival at the site
  • Citizen requests
  • Upstream ends of channels or the upper zones of channel slopes that are not essential in stormwater flow

Why are bridges along the bayou being modified?

Approximately 30 bridges that span the channel must be modified to accommodate channel widening. Whether a bridge is completely replaced or slightly modified depends on the circumstances surrounding the bridge itself. The timeframe of construction and when or if a bridge is closed can vary.

Where does the dirt go?

For flood damage reduction projects such as Project Brays, millions of cubic yards of dirt are removed from the channel and stormwater detention basins. HCFCD requires the construction contractor to find appropriate sites to place the dirt.

The most common sites include:

  • Other public infrastructure projects such as roadway projects
  • Placing it on the same project site to create an amenity for the surrounding community to enjoy
  • Developer projects such as new residential subdivisions
  • Landfill areas to create clay caps for waste disposal sites
  • Old land pits for future development

The placement of dirt must comply with all local, state and federal laws. Reliance upon the private sector to find suitable uses for the dirt keeps construction costs low. Otherwise, the HCFCD would have to acquire property merely to stockpile all of this dirt.

What is a stormwater detention basin?

A stormwater detention basin  is an area where excess stormwater is temporarily stored until the water level in the adjacent channel recedes, and the stormwater can safely drain. When full, detention basins often resemble lakes. When not holding stormwater, detention basins are large, excavated open spaces. Some basins are designed to have a permanent water level in the bottom, and vegetation is planted to provide habitat, as well as improve water quality. Four stormwater detention basins are being created for Project Brays and collectively will hold nearly 3.5 billion gallons of stormwater and cover about 900 acres when completed. This is the equivalent of seven Astrodomes of storage!

How can I find out when construction is happening in my area?

The easiest way to learn when and where construction is happening along Brays Bayou is to check the Construction Activity Update page, here on the Project Brays website. The Construction Activity Update page lists recently completed, ongoing and upcoming construction. The list is updated quarterly and breaks the projects down into phases and percentages of completion.

How can the public stay informed on the progress of Project Brays?

There are several ways that information about Project Brays can be obtained: 

  • Visit the website regularly for new information on what is happening in and around your area
  • Sign-up for the Project Brays mailing list to receive regular Project Brays e-updates and information on upcoming meetings, construction, project progress, etc.
  • Request a presentation from the Project Brays staff
  • Utilize e-mail addresses and phone numbers provided on thecontact us page to request information or to ask questions
  • Attend public meetings or open houses in your area, which are listed in the community calendar 

The placement of dirt must comply with all local, state and federal laws. Reliance upon the private sector to find suitable uses for the dirt keeps construction costs low. Otherwise, the HCFCD would have to acquire property merely to stockpile all of this dirt. 

Upon completion of Project Brays, will I still need to carry flood insurance?

Yes. Although Project Brays will reduce the risk of flooding along Brays Bayou, the risk of flooding will still remain. It is important to remember that every household should ALWAYS be insured against the possibility of personal and financial loss caused by flooding. It is also important to note that on average, one-third of all flood losses affect property located outside of the mapped 1% (100-year) floodplain.