Northpark Tree Moving Equipment

Northpark Tree Moving Starts; Pond Excavation Next

The Northpark Drive expansion project understandably slowed during the holidays. But Northpark tree moving started in earnest this week. Contractors have returned and started moving trees to clear the areas where two detention ponds will be excavated at 59.

In other news:

  • Concrete culvert is being stockpiled to carry stormwater from the ponds to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch via Ditch One behind the businesses on the north side of Northpark.
  • TXDoT has found a hazardous waste site for oil-contaminated dirt discovered during clearing for the north pond. Relocation of the waste should be complete by the end of January, if not sooner.
  • CenterPoint is almost finished moving its gas line that used to run down the center of Northpark. That will allow resumption of culvert placement in the center ditch.
  • Entergy is still delaying parts of the project by refusing to move its electric lines and transformers unless the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority pays them $1.4 million. The amount originally demanded – $711,000 – mysteriously doubled during the holidays.

To learn more about each of these items, see below.

Moving Day Arrives for Trees

Before excavation can begin on the two stormwater detention ponds at US59, numerous trees must be transplanted.

This week, Northpark tree moving began in earnest on the south side of Northpark. Trees are being moved from the center of the entry to the periphery to form a green backdrop that says “Kingwood.” They will frame a decorative pond that doubles as a stormwater detention basin.

The giant machine shown below scoops out dirt and places it to the side. Then it scoops out a tree and drops it into the hole.

To see the complete sequence, view this post from an earlier press conference.
This shot shows the beginnings of the tree backdrop around what will become a pond.

But the job isn’t done yet. More trees remain. Heavy rain earlier this week is still slowing transplantation.

Looking south across Northpark. Wide shot shows where pond will go and trees yet to be transplanted.

Contaminated Soil Being Relocated

Before Thanksgiving, contractors struck oil in the soil on the north side of Northpark at 59. Someone dumped it years or even decades ago. To prevent further leeching into the groundwater, contractors excavated and isolated it with plastic sheeting.

Since then, TXDoT located a suitable permanent site for the contaminated soil and contractor will soon begin moving it.

Looking south toward Northpark over the contaminated soil.

All contaminated soil should be removed by end of January at the latest, according to Ralph De Leon, project manager.

The ponds on both sides of Northpark will keep the US59 intersection from flooding during heavy rains, helping to ensure that the new all-weather evacuation route for 70,000 people remains passable during extreme storms.

More Box Culvert Stockpiled to Reroute Drainage

Excess water from the ponds will be routed east toward the Kingwood Diversion Ditch instead of north along 59 toward Bens Branch – a shorter route.

Why? During heavy rains drainage to Bens Branch where it crosses under 59 can back up all the way to the Northpark intersection. Re-routing it will avoid flooding along the vital 59 corridor AND Northpark without adding to the burden on the Diversion Ditch.

Culvert stockpiled between railroad tracks and Ditch One.
Northpark Drive drainage improvements
Alternate route for stormwater from entry ponds to Kingwood Diversion Ditch and/or Bens Branch.

CenterPoint Gas Line Relocation

As of this afternoon, CenterPoint had reached Russell-Palmer Road with its new gas line. It is moving the line from the median to make room for 6×8 foot concrete box culverts. The culverts will allow the Redevelopment Authority to create two new lanes inside the old lanes, rather than outside, which would be more expensive because of the need for property acquisition.

When the last quarter mile is finished to the diversion ditch, culvert placement in the ditch will resume. It was temporarily halted earlier when contractors discovered serveral conflicts with the gas line; it was higher than expected. That interfered with a consistent gradient for the drainage.

Entergy Conflict Resolution

Before Christmas, the Redevelopment Authority had agreed to pay Entergy $711,000 to move a transformer and some power lines. After Christmas, Entergy doubled the price to $1.4 million. It’s one more setback in a years-long struggle with the corporate giant. More news to follow when and if a resolution becomes clear. (Editorial comment: Entergy does not seem to share 70,000 Kingwood residents’ sense of urgency about the need for an all-weather evacuation route.)

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/4/2024

2319 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.