FM1010 bridge near Colony Ridge

Six Years After Harvey, Bridge Still Blown Out at Colony Ridge

Two weeks short of Harvey’s sixth anniversary, FM1010, the main north/south artery between Huffman and Cleveland is still blown out due to excessive, uncontrolled runoff from Colony Ridge. Colony Ridge is the world’s largest trailer park and it’s just upstream near the East Fork San Jacinto in Liberty County. The productivity loss of local residents could easily have added up to half of a billion dollars by now.

Photos taken 8/12/23

I took all the photos below from a helicopter on Saturday, 8/12/23.

Blown out portion of FM1010, aka the Huffman-Cleveland Road and Plum Grove Road
The washout forces tens of thousands of nearby residents to take detour.

During rush hours, the backups on FM2090 from traffic trying to get to US59 can stretch miles because of failure to repair this bridge.

The washed out bridge lies at the end of this 2-mile Colony Ridge water cannon.
This Colony Ridge drainage ditch, like most others, does not have backslope interceptor swales to help control erosion or runoff.

Neither does this part of Colony Ridge have detention basins to help reduce the amount of runoff flowing into the East Fork San Jacinto.

Estimated Cost of Delays

I wonder if it’s even possible to accurately calculate the number of “people hours” lost to the senseless washout of the FM1010 bridge. But I will try.

For the sake of argument:

  • Assume 10,000 commuters are inconvenienced for an hour a day (half hour each way).
  • Multiply that times 365 days and then again by 6 years. You come close to 22 million hours.
  • Now multiply that times $25/hour.

Assuming these numbers are even in the ballpark, the washout could have cost local residents more than half of a billion dollars. Geez! How much can a twin culvert bridge and some blacktop cost?!

Expansion Accelerates Despite Access Issue

But that hasn’t stopped the Colony Ridge developer from expanding.

Colony Ridge now comprises more than 30 square miles. It has virtually doubled in size in the last two years. Landsat photo from 7/18/23 courtesy of Google Earth.

The development started around 2010. It now occupies 50% more land than Kingwood, which is now more than 50 years old.

The developer must be banking on a rapid increase in demand. He reportedly advertises in Mexico and Central America. The pitch: “Own your piece of America.”

Here’s what that looks like:

Note how the back yard is eroding into the drainage ditch. Photo courtesy of Chris Russo.

Long-Time Plum Grove Resident Worries about Evacuation During Storms

The long ditch above drains into Rocky Branch. According to a long-time Plum Grove resident, the stream was completely invisible from FM1010 “back in 2008 and 2011 even.” Then, he says, “Colony Ridge excavators and dozers showed up.” They widened and deepened the stream, but on the Colony Ridge side of the culverts only! 

According to the resident, FEMA engineers have told Plum Grove that an actual bridge is now required to convey all the water and survive any length of time. 

The resident vividly recalls Hurricane Rita approaching the Texas coastline in 2005 – before Colony Ridge. He said, “There was complete gridlock thru the City of Plum Grove as people from the Crosby and Beaumont areas were trying to evacuate inland. Plum Grove Road was bumper to bumper for 3 full days. Residents could not leave or get back home due to the gridlock thru our little city. How will THAT play out when the next Cat IV or V storm approaches us now that all the dense forests have been cleared?”

Good question!

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/13/23

2175 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.