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Bridge over Tracks, Upstream Detention on Friday’s Commissioners Court Agenda

Two Kingwood-related items are on Harris County Commissioner’s Court agenda for this Friday.

#60 Recommendation to execute a Partnership Agreement with TXDoT for preliminary engineering and environmental review for a railroad grade separation on Hamblen Road, from Loop 494 to Laurel Springs Lane.

#83 Authorization to negotiate an interlocal agreement for a partnership project with the SJRA, Humble, and five utility districts for a feasibility study and conceptual design on the Spring Creek Watershed Flood Control Reservoirs.

Bridge over UP Tracks

The first item relates to the development of Precinct 4’s new Edgewater Park at 59 and the West Fork. Hamblen Road will be re-routed during park construction so that it connects with the first bridge over US59 north of the West Fork and Sorters-McClellan Road.

This would improve traffic flow and expand the development area of the 90-acre park that will serve as a key anchor park along the Spring Creek Greenway trail.
The current two-lane asphalt segment of Hamblen Road runs across the Union Pacific Railroad track through the middle of the proposed park. Plans include rerouting the new segment diagonally from Loop 494 at Sorters-McClellan Road to Laurel Springs Lane and upgrading it to a four-lane concrete with a bridge over the railroad track. The previous Hamblen Road segment could then be repurposed to serve park visitors. If approved, construction will not affect the park’s cypress ponds.

Tentative plans for a new Edgewater Park at Hamblen Road and Loop 494. The proposed bridge across the railroad would be part of the diagonal segment.

The bridge would also provide an evacuation route from Kingwood in the event of a railroad accident. UP plans to increase the length of its trains making a bridge more important than ever. In the event of a derailment, the longer trains (without the bridge) could block all Kingwood exits to US59.

Also, the current intersection is one of the most dangerous in Kingwood. Danny Sullivan, of Sullivan’s Automotive, says he tows vehicles almost daily from this stretch of road. There are a number of blind turns with people trying to cut across multiple lanes as traffic zooms north off the San Jacinto bridge.

Spring Creek Reservoirs: Feasibility Study, Conceptual Design

The second item arose out of the San Jacinto River Basin Master Drainage Study and a Spring Creek Siting Study conducted in parallel. This current project would study the feasibility of alternative locations and provide conceptual designs for one or more reservoirs.

Additional upstream detention is one of the three main legs of the Lake Houston Areas flood-reduction strategy. Upstream detention would reduce the inbound flow; dredging is restoring conveyance of the West Fork; and additional gates on the Lake Houston Dam will help eliminate backups.

Peak flows from various tributaries during Hurricane Harvey. Source: SJRA.

During Harvey, Spring Creek provided one third of the flow coming down the West Fork between Humble and Kingwood. To put that in perspective, that was as much as the peak release from Lake Conroe. Retaining even a portion of Spring Creek’s floodwater upstream would benefit people in Precinct 3 and Precinct 4 all across northern Harris County.

So even though this would be far upstream and not in our area, it still has the potential to reduce flooding significantly in the Lake Houston Area. And that’s very good news.

Thanks to Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle, Harris County Flood Control and their partners for pushing this project forward.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/24/2021

1275 Days since Hurricane Harvey