The pace of excavation and removal of up to 500,000 cubic yards of soil from Woodridge Village has slowed slightly in recent months. That may be due to rising interest rates, which have slowed housing starts. Contractors use excavated dirt to elevate homesites in new developments. But the Census Bureau says housing starts in June 2022 fell 6.3% below the June 2021 rate.
Woodridge Village Background
Woodridge Village was the failed 670-acre Perry Homes development that twice contributed to flooding hundreds of homes in Kingwood’s Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest Villages in 2019. Harris County and the City of Houston bought the property in 2021 to help reduce flood risk. They plan to do this by building another detention basin.
Perry left the site about 40% short of the floodwater detention capacity needed to meet current Atlas-14 requirements. Since then, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) entered into an “Excavation and Removal” contract (E&R) with Sprint Sand and Clay to begin removing additional soil. The goal: to get a head start on building an additional detention basin that would meet OR exceed Atlas-14 requirements.
Harris County Commissioners Court approved the contract with Sprint Sand and Clay on July 20, 2021. It obligates Sprint to remove at least 5000 cubic yards per month. Excavation started on January 27, 2022.
To date, Sprint has removed 48,860 yards of material. That’s 18,860 cubic yards more than the contract minimum for six months. And 1,400 cubic yards more than the minimum for July. So you can see that the rate of removal is dipping slightly.
At almost 50,000 cubic yards for 6 months (or 100,000 yards per year), it would take 5 years for Sprint to reach the maximum. However, by contract, Sprint has 36 months. If Sprint continues to average 6,000 cubic yards per month for another 30 months, it would remove a total of 229,000 cubic yards before the end of the contract term ([30×6000]+ 49,000).
So at some point, Sprint will have to sprint to catch up if they want to remove all 500,00 cubic yards.
Recent Photos Show Growth of Basin
Here’s what the site looked like before and after July’s excavation activity.
End of June
End of July
About E&R Contracts
E&R contracts provide a head start on construction of detention basins before completion of their final design.
Sprint has agreed to remove up to half a million cubic yards of soil for only $1000. But it makes its money back by selling the soil for a profit on the open market. This provides virtually free excavation to taxpayers and virtually free raw material to Sprint. HCFCD has spent only $230 on the project so far. But the tradeoffs are speed and certainty.
The property above forms the headwaters of Taylor Gully. When HCFCD finishes its Taylor Gully study, things may change.
Final Needs Contingent on Outcome of Taylor Gully Study
HCFCD hired Idcus, Inc. in mid-2021 to develop up to five conceptual alternatives for modifying Taylor Gully. Scenarios may include:
- Expanding Detention On Woodridge Village so that no channel improvements are necessary.
- Determining amount of detention and channel improvements necessary to ensure no adverse impact all the way to Lake Houston.
- Finding the optimum balance between maximum flood protection and minimum construction costs.
- Channel and basin layouts
- Estimates of benefits for various levels of storms (100-year, etc.)
- Right-of-way requirements
- Cost estimates for right-of-way acquisition, engineering and construction management.
- Performance metrics, i.e., estimated acreage of land inundation, number of structures in floodplain, number of structures flooded and miles of inundated roadway.
- A scoring matrix to rank alternatives.
Idcus should be done with the study soon. In the meantime, residents will have to settle for the virtually free head start we get.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/31/2022
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