Army Corps of Engineers Awards Dredging Bid on West Fork Emergency Project

The Lake Houston area is one step closer to removing some of those giant sandbars deposited on the West Fork during Harvey. Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) awarded the bid for its Emergency Dredging Project on the San Jacinto to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, an international company headquartered in the Chicago area with more than 125 years of experience.

Bid Phase Comes to a Close

The Corps opened three bids for the project on June, 12, 2018. The wide variation in the bid amounts triggered a mandatory review to ensure each bidder met the bid specs. Based on submittals, the apparent low bidder at that time was RLB Contracting from Port Lavaca, TX. However, during the review RLB was judged “non-responsive.”

By law, the Army Corps must then examine the next highest bidder to ensure that they meet specs and can deliver the project for the price in their proposal. In this case, the next lowest bidder was Great Lakes at $69,814,060.

The corps will meet with Great Lakes next week to discuss details of the project. According to bid specifications, work on the project should begin within 5 days of the award. Specs also state that the winning bidder should staff the project to complete it within 270 days.

Example of equipment used by Great Lakes when dredging rivers.

Volume to be Removed Expanded during Bidding

Originally, the Corps specified 180 days. However, the amount of sand and sediment to be removed more than doubled from 780,000 cubic yards to 1.8 million. The change happened before bids were submitted as all three potential vendors went over specs with a fine tooth comb and submitted questions.

According to one vendor, during this back-and-forth phase of the project, bidders discovered that the river had changed so dramatically from the benchmark study, that some of the dredging “profiles” had to be adjusted.

The profiles are representative cross sections of the river at regular intervals between the western and eastern limits of dredging. They show the current and desired depth and width.

Despite the increase in volume to be removed, the Corps still expects at this time that the two disposal sites will accommodate the volume. The disposal sites are sand pits that will be regraded when filled to match contours of the surrounding area. One disposal area is just north of Townsen Blvd. and North Houston Road in Humble. The other is on the Kingwood side of the river off Sorters/McClellan Road just south of Kingwood College.

Prep Work Finishing

While the Corps has been sorting through dredging bids, the City of Houston has been hard at work removing debris from the shores of the lake and tributaries. Crews have finished removing dead trees from the dam and West Fork. This week they worked their way up the East Fork to East End Park. Today, fishermen spotted them working north of the FM1960 bridge.

Dead tree removal before dredging on Lake Houston is nearly complete.

Even though the current dredging project will not include the East Fork or Lake Houston, the removal of dead trees will help improve safety in the event of another flood. The deadfall could get caught up in the FM1960 bridge and create an artificial dam that would back water up into residential areas.

For more detail about Great Lakes, see their brochure on their river and lake expertise.

For more about the U.S. Army Corps, visit, or

The USACE Galveston District was established in 1880 as the first engineer district in Texas to oversee river and harbor improvements. The district is directly responsible for maintaining more than 1,000 miles of channel, including 250 miles of deep draft and 750 miles of shallow draft as well as the Colorado River Locks and Brazos River Floodgates.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/6/2018

311 Days since Hurricane Harvey