Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) will begin repairing the next section of Ben’s Branch on January 19. The repairs will take place in the channel between Kingwood Drive and the natural portion of Ben’s Branch at the end of Rocky Woods Drive.
Jose Predraza of Stuart Consulting is coordinating the project. He said, “The purpose of this project is to restore the conveyance of Ben’s Branch. It has been reduced over the years due to erosion and sedimentation. The project will include implementing erosion repairs, repairing side slope failures, repairing or replacing outfalls, rectifying flow lines, and removing excess sediment.”
Contractors will remove approximately 22,000 cubic yards of sediment deposited by floods over the years.
Continual cycles of deposition and erosion have clogged, deformed and narrowed the creek.
The Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis showed that Ben’s Branch had been reduced to a 2-year level of service in places. That means, it will flood in a 2-year rain.
The analysis did not specify whether this was one of those places, but outside the natural portion of the stream, this is currently the most constricted part. Other parts of the channel have already been restored, i.e., from Woodland Hills Drive to Northpark Drive and south of Kingwood Drive to the YMCA.
“Erosion repairs include the placement of fill material, placement of 3”x5” granular fill, and the placement of grade #1 riprap,” continued Pedraza. “Channel cross sections will be reconstructed with a maximum 5:1 (H:V) slope where necessary. This project will be conducted wholly within the existing channel right-of-way.”
Pedraza estimates construction will last 145 days – not quite five months. If weather cooperates, contractors should complete the work in early June.
The project originally was scheduled to start in October 2020. But several delays occurred.
- Initially, rain delayed completion of the survey.
- Then, geotechnical investigations led to additional design time.
- Finally, getting approval to cross CenterPoint’s power-line easement took additional time.
Trucks do not have enough room to turn around within the work area, so one-way traffic will be the rule. Trucks will enter the work area by coming up Woods Estates Drive to Cedar Knolls and entering the greenbelt from there. They will then follow the Centerpoint easement to the work area. Finally, they will exit by going south toward Kingwood Drive, cutting across the ditch, and coming out behind the old H-E-B.
Contractors will then haul the excavated dirt to nearby TCEQ-approved landfill sites outside of the .02% annual chance (500-year) flood plain.
Daily schedules are being coordinated with Kingwood High School start/stop times to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety.
Benefitting Residents, Schools and Businesses
When complete, the creek will be able to handle much more water than before without coming out of its banks…as much as it could when Friendswood originally excavated it.
This will be a vast improvement, especially for those who live near the creek in Kings Forest and Bear Branch, many of whom flooded during Harvey.
The work should reduce the flood risk for Kingwood High School also. The school first flooded in 1994. During Harvey, the building flooded to the second floor. It suffered $67 million dollars in damages and lost another $10 million in contents. The Humble ISD had to close Kingwood High for seven months and bus kids to another high school where they alternated “shifts” with the students from that high school.
Kingwood High also flooded during Imelda, but had less damage.
Finally, the work will also benefit the shopping center on the northwest corner of Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway. Every store in the center flooded badly during Harvey. Many businesses still have not returned. The center nearly flooded again during Imelda. Water flowed through the parking lot and was inches from coming into stores.
The Ben’s Branch project will be funded through the HCFCD maintenance budget and a grant from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/9/2021
1229 Days since Hurricane Harvey