Tree Lane Bridge over Ben’s Branch: Before and After Repairs

Yesterday, I posted about the hidden costs of flooding. Here’s another one: infrastructure repairs. And another one: re-doing infrastructure repairs. Like those to the Tree Lane Bridge over Ben’s Branch.

History of Issue

Upstream development in Montgomery County with insufficient and un-repaired detention pond capacity started dumping excess water into Ben’s Branch. It didn’t take long for the area under the Tree Lane bridge next to Bear Branch Elementary to start eroding badly.

Tree Lane was already a pinch point in the Ben’s Branch floodway. That and the combination of even more water during the Tax Day, Memorial Day, Harvey, May 2019, and Imelda floods all took a toll. The picture below shows what the bridge looked like on December 1, 2019. Hundreds of kids cross this bridge on their way to Bear Branch Elementary every day.

The Before Shot: Taken November 31, 2019

After taking the shot above, I emailed it to the City. To their credit, they sent crews out right away to repair it. Heavy equipment sat at the site for 2.5 months.

After the Repairs

About two weeks ago, the last piece left the job site. So today, I drove by to get an “after” shot. See the improvements below.

The After Shot: Taken 2/29/2020, three months later.

The City put rip rap across the creek to reduce erosion from water shooting out from the storm sewer in the upper right. They also broke up some of the large slabs of concrete to form additional rip rap.

However, it appears that they:

  • Have done little to stabilize the bridge supports.
  • Left slabs of concrete leaning against an exposed pipeline.
  • Threw a traffic sign and traffic cone into the creek.
  • Left about 50 bags of sand on the large slab at the left.

Someone else could have dumped the construction materials and sign. Crappy looking areas always encourage illegal dumping.

Enlargement of detail from previous shot showing sand that has been left behind or dumped.

I’m guessing that the rip rap may help reduce erosion from the storm sewer. But…

I see little here to stop erosion from upstream of Tree Lane or reduce danger to the pipeline. More important, the City did nothing to increase conveyance under the bridge.

The Tree Lane Bridge still forms a pinch point that restricts conveyance of Ben’s Branch.

Of course, the City may handle the conveyance issue in a second job. That could help build a case for doubling those drainage fees.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/29/2019

914 Days after Hurricane Harvey