Harris County Flood Control to Begin Restoring Conveyance of Bens Branch In April

Jason Krahn of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) revealed plans tonight to begin restoring the conveyance of Bens Branch, one of the largest drainage channels in Kingwood. Bens Branch runs diagonally through the center of Kingwood from the new St. Martha Catholic Church to east of Kings Harbor where it joins the San Jacinto West Fork.

Harris County Flood Control will soon begin removing more than
8000 truckloads of sediment clogging Ben’s Branch.

Welcome Relief

News of the project will bring welcome relief to those who live near the creek and who flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Among them are residents of North Woodland Hills, Kings Forest, Bear Branch, Town Center, the Enclave, Kingwood Village Estates, and Kings Harbor.

Restoring Conveyance to 1990 Level

The objective of the project: to restore the conveyance that existed in 1990 when the creek was last widened and improved. Large portions of the creek have severe silting.

Krahn says Flood Control plans to excavate 1.3 miles of the ditch from near Kingwood Drive to past the YMCA – a total of 6,851 linear feet. The project will stop approximately 1,800 feet from Lake Houston. From that area, they plan to excavate 77,365 cubic yards of sediment that have built up since 1990. That equals about 8,600 dump-truck loads.

Flood Control also plans to bring in rock to shore up areas that have severely eroded.

Project Phasing and Timeline

The design phase of the project has completed and bidding will begin within two weeks, says Krahn, the project manager.

To access the areas to be excavated, Flood Control will use a combination of roads and adjacent property owners. They include Kingwood County Club, Harris County Precinct 4 Library, the YMCA, and the Kings Crossing Trail Association.

Expect the following phases:

  • Establishing access
  • Erection of construction fencing
  • Mobilization of equipment such as amphibious trackhoes and shallow-draft barges
  • Excavating material and storing it along the edges of the creek
  • Waiting two weeks for it to drain and dry
  • Hauling it away

Krahn expects to haul off 40 truck loads per day. He says the project should take a total of 250 calendar days. Thus, they should complete the project by next January.

Some trees may have to go, but Krahn vows to make every effort to keep as many trees as he can. He says he understands how much Kingwood values trees. He also points out that any trees on the banks did not exist when the ditch was last excavated; they have grown up since.

Procurement, bidding, and planning will run from April through June. Expect to see boots on the ground no later than July 1.

$2.1 Million Cost Expected

Total cost of the project is projected at about $2.1 million out of a $17 million total maintenance budget for all of Harris County. This money does not come out of the flood bond. It comes from the normal HCFCD maintenance and operations budget.

Soil Already Tested; Non-Hazardous

The county has already sampled and tested the soil that it will remove. It received a Class 2 Non-Hazardous Rating. That means it is not contaminated and can be stored anywhere. Krahn says that the winning contractor will propose disposal sites. Sometimes the fill will be used in road beds, to elevate property, or returned to old sand pits.

Warn Kids to Stay Away

Many people fish and play in the creek and job on its banks. Krahn requested residents to keep their children away from the construction zone once heavy equipment starts moving in. Operators will have their eyes on the job and not people jogging or fishing.

Thanks to Barbara Hilburn

A shout-out to Barbara Hilburn of Kingwood Lakes who has doggedly led the charge on internal drainage improvements since Harvey. Hilburn emphasized the need for a Kingwood-wide study of internal drainage to restore the entire system to its original capacity. She hopes that will work hand-in-hand with other improvements being made to the San Jacinto and the Lake Houston dam to reduce flood risk.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/20/2019

568 Days since Hurricane Harvey