Tag Archive for: blailock

HCFCD Crews Work on Thanksgiving Day to Clear Ben’s Branch

Earlier this week, I reported an improbable meeting in Huffman on the eve of Thanksgiving that showed promise to increase conveyance on Luce Bayou. This story is even more amazing holiday miracle. Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) crews worked on Thanksgiving Day to clear trees blocking Ben’s Branch.

HCFCD has a right to cut trees 50 feet on either side of the centerline of the Ben’s Branch and clearing started Thanksgiving week. Photo courtesy of Thomas Blailock.

I did not personally see them but received an email with images from Thomas Blailock Thursday. Blailock says, “The contractor is UFLGC from Ackerman, MS. They had 7 trucks and around 20 employees clearing on Thanksgiving Day. They have been here for 4-5 days.”

I saw evidence of their work at Tree Lane. The areas on either side of Bens Branch look like they got a haircut.

Such clearing reduces the chances that trees will fall into the creek during storms, get hung up on other trees and form “beaver dams” that back water up into neighborhoods.

Result of One Year of Negotiation

The clearing follows a year of negotiation between HCFCD, Friendswood and Bear Branch Trail Association. The Association owns the greenbelt, but Friendswood still exercises deed restrictions.

The Community had mixed reaction to news of the agreement. Many were thankful for progress. Others felt the agreement didn’t go far enough. Many, like Blailock, hoped the creek could be widened or straightened.

Judging by how difficult it was to work out terms of this compromise, widening or straightening won’t happen any time soon – even as upstream development continues to dump more water faster into the creek.

An Alternative That Could Help

I have heard, however, that HCFCD has examined the possibility of widening the Kingwood Diversion ditch that runs down the western side of Woodland Hills and crosses under Kingwood Drive near the fire station. Preliminary reports from HCFCD indicate that a) their easement includes enough room to widen the ditch, b) no bridges would have to be widened (they were built with enough room under them to widen the ditch), and c) that could divert water from Ben’s Branch that would help reduce flooding along the creek.

Looking south down the diversion ditch from over Northpark Drive. That’s Woodland Hills on the left and Kings Mill on the right.
Looking north along the diversion ditch toward where it intersects with Ben’s Branch in front of the new St. Martha Church. That’s Ben’s Branch crossing left to right, parallel with the power lines.
HCFCD’s easement and the bridges are wide enough to widen the ditch without rebuilding the bridges. Note the extra room under the bridges on the right of the water.

Nothing is final yet. The Kingwood Area Drainage Assessment is not yet complete. So things could change. But don’t be surprised if you see this as a future recommendation.

For a full review of issues along Ben’s Branch from Kingwood Drive north past Northpark Drive and St. Martha’s new church, check out this thorough, thought-provoking presentation by Chris Bloch. It underscores the need to use all means possible to improve conveyance.

For more information about HCFCD work in the Kingwood Area, see this page on their new, updated website.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/30/2019 with help from Thomas Blailock and Chris Bloch

824 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 72 after Imelda

Maintenance and Construction Work Beginning on Bens Branch

Here’s some much needed good news regarding Bens Branch. One small maintenance project began last week and an even bigger one should kick off within the next two weeks. Bens Branch cuts diagonally through Kingwood and drains a major portion of the community.

Bens Branch Between North Park and St. Martha Started Last Week

Last week, Harris County Flood Control crews began excavating Bens Branch from North Park to below the old St. Martha’s church. In recent years, the creek had become badly silted and overgrown with vegetation. When the May 7th rains hit, several local businesses flooded including the St. Martha Catholic School and Kids in Action. County maintenance should soon restore normal conveyance through this area. These photos taken last Friday by Thomas Blailock, a Bear Branch resident, show how badly the creek had become constricted.

Photo of Bens Branch taken from Woodland Hills Bridge on Friday, 6/28/2019. Kids in Action is in background. St. Martha is out of frame on the right. Courtesy of Thomas Blailock.
Another photo courtesy of Thomas Blailock showing how badly Bens Branch was constricted in this area.
Note how shallow the ditch has become. Only the bottom tread of the excavator was visible in this standing water.

Bens Branch South of Kingwood Drive Starts Next Month

For the last two months, Harris County Flood Control has also been compiling specs, soliciting vendors and receiving bids for the excavation of Bens Branch between Kingwood Drive and about 1000 feet north of the West Fork San Jacinto River. That area has also become badly silted.

Scope of new Bens Branch excavation project
Bens Branch at West Lake Houston Parkway immediately south of Amegy Bank.

Excavation of approximately 80,000 cubic yards of sediment should begin in July and last for several months. Prepare for dump trucks on the road for the next few months. It will be inconvenient and dirty, but that’s the price of restoring the conveyance of the creek.

This portion of Bens Branch contributed to the flooding of Town Center, The Enclave, Kingwood Village Estates, Kingwood Greens, the YMCA and Kings Harbor and five apartment complexes. Twelve people in Kingwood Village Estates died as a result of injuring sustained during the evacuation or the stress of losing their homes when they returned.

Jason Krahn, the project manager at Harris County Flood Control said last Friday that, “A recommendation to award Project ID # G103-33-00-X004 – Conveyance Restoration on Bens Branch to Solid Bridge Construction, LLC, has been made, and that recommendation to award is scheduled to be on the Harris County Commissioners Court (HCCC) Agenda for HCCC approval of the recommendation to award on July 9, 2019.”  

Once the award has been officially voted on and approved by the Commissioners Court, the Harris County Purchasing Agent’s office will work to obtain the executed contract, and the necessary bonds from the  Contractor so that the project can move forward to construction.  Expect to see about 40 dump trucks per day (8600 loads in total) on the streets of Kingwood.

Money for both of these projects does not come out of the flood bond. It comes from the Harris County Flood Control District Maintenance Budget.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/30/19

670 Days since Hurricane Harvey