Northpark Entry detention basins

First Northpark Entry Pond Taking Shape

One week after contractors began digging the first Northpark entry pond, you can see a broad area that has already been excavated.

Looking S toward Northpark and US59 on 1/21/24.

The decorative pond, when complete, will double as a detention basin to temporarily store extra runoff from the newly widened Northpark roadbed and US59 feeder road during heavy storms.

Stormwater will collect between the pond’s normal water level and the surface of the ground, then drain slowly at a rate (constrained by the outfall pipe) that drainage ditches can safely handle.

Stormwater from 59 feeder road as well as Northpark will flow into ponds.

Why Ponds?

Traffic heading to 59 during an evacuation must not be trapped behind a flooded intersection at the freeway. Likewise, overflowing ditches must not flood homes and businesses in the area. Hence, the need for stormwater detention capacity.

The basins/ponds will also serve as decorative attractions that welcome people to Kingwood, exactly like they do at Kingwood Drive.

Contractors will build one pond on each side Northpark. Culvert that runs under Northpark will connect the ponds and carry overflow from the south pond to north pond.

Overflow from the ponds will then drain east toward Loop 494, under the railroad tracks, and behind the businesses on the north side of Northpark.

What to Expect in Coming Weeks

In coming weeks, contractors will complete the outline of the ponds. But, for now, they will only excavate down to the water table, according to project manager Ralph De Leon. Before contractors can go lower, they need a place to pump water as they dig. That means finishing the drainage-culvert connection(s) to Ditch One first. Ditch One leads to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and Bens Branch farther east.

So the next steps will be:

  1. Place culvert in the easement between the north entry pond and Loop 494.
  2. Place culvert east of the railroad tracks that will connect to Ditch One.
  3. Connect both segments by tunneling under 494 and the UP Railroad tracks.

A satellite image clearly shows the entire route.

Northpark Drive drainage improvements

Here’s what it route looks like from a couple hundred feet.

Stormwater will travel from the entry ponds in the background at 59 via culvert in the easement (middle of the frame).
Then, the storm sewer will go under 494 (left) and the UP tracks before turning left and going behind two storage facilities.

In the pictures above and below, note the culvert already pre-positioned.

Behind Public Storage and Duncan Donuts, the storm drains will empty into Ditch One (top middle). Photo Oct. 2023.
Looking west. Water will flow through ditch toward the foreground behind Calvary Christian Fellowship (lower left).
Looking opposite direction from same location. Ditch One flows toward St. Martha Catholic Church (top center).

Just before reaching St. Martha Catholic Church, the water will turn right and cross under Northpark in either Bens Branch or the Kingwood Diversion Ditch.

Building from the Ground Up

De Leon emphasized that all underground work (drainage and utilities) must be completed before any road building can begin. The underground work still entails:

  • Building a second CenterPoint gas line on the north side of Northpark. CenterPoint will also build two connections to the first CenterPoint gas line on the south side. The first connection will be at Russell-Palmer Road and the second near Loop 494.
  • Relocating Entergy power lines and transformer.
  • Moving fiber-optic lines from internet and telecom companies.
  • Relocating a water line to Parkwood Baptist Church.
  • Finishing tree transplantation.
  • Tunneling storm drains under the railroad.

All of the above require permissions, permits and inter-local agreements with the City, Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ, utilities, and UP Railroad).

Three-Day Road Closure

At some future point, after those details are worked out, Northpark will have to close for three days. Previously, the plan had been to keep at least two lanes of traffic open in both directions at all times. So this represents a change. But any closure is still months away.

The closure will happen during construction of turn lanes under the bridge that will go over the UP Railroad Tracks.

UP intends to install a one-piece, 100-foot-long section of track and concrete that spans all ten lanes of traffic. The one-piece construction will involve multiple giant cranes. It will also mean shutting down rail traffic. But the final result will be a more stable track.

However, the one-piece construction also means alternate-side road closures are no longer a viable strategy.

Ideal Conditions for Tree Transplantation

The cool, wet weather during the winter months when trees are dormant makes ideal conditions for moving them. The trees should have a much higher survival rate now than during the drought and heat, as we experienced last summer.

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 1/13/24

2336 Days since Hurricane Harvey