To help accommodate the expansion of Northpark Drive and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch, City of Houston (CoH) contractors are cleaning sediment from under the Northpark Bridges. This effort will eliminate a constriction in the Diversion Ditch that backed stormwater up, forcing it into Bens Branch, flooding people, businesses and schools downstream.
Separately, Week 2 of Northpark Drive expansion has seen other breakthroughs farther west.
- Cleaning and expansion of the median ditch have reached almost to the UnionPacific (UP) railroad tracks that parallel Loop 494.
- CoH and UP are also reaching agreements – at long last – that will let contractors move forward with construction at a much faster rate.
See more details and photos below.
Photos of Bridge Clean-out Taken 8/8/23
8/8/23 Photos of Northpark Ditch Clean-out
The ditch clean-out will make room for 5′ x 7′ box culverts like those you see below. Workers have now buried all of the round concrete pipe stockpiled last week. They have also cut through concrete in the crossover between the fireworks stand and Flowers of Kingwood.
The “step-down” from the box culverts to the round concrete pipe (now buried) will provide in-line stormwater detention during heavy rains that helps reduce flood potential in the receiving ditch, i.e., the Diversion Ditch.
UP and CoH Near Agreement on Access Rights
According to Ralph De Leon, project manager for the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority and TIRZ 10, CoH and UP have come to terms on one agreement and are close to finalizing a second.
The first covers covers maintenance and construction. It will let contractors drill under the railroad tracks to address utility issues. Cost: $2.2 million.
The second agreement covers vertical and horizontal easements. Cost: under $200 thousand. The easements will let contractors build a bridge and access roads over the tracks.
However, it will also require the TIRZ to purchase two additional tracts of land north and south of Northpark at the railroad tracks.
Resident Reacts to Sediment Removal in Diversion Ditch
Flood activist and Kingwood resident Chris Bloch lauded the CoH sediment removal under the Northpark Bridge. He called it, “Great news for Kingwood!”
“Removal of the sediment under the Northpark bridges will substantially recover conveyance capacity of the Diversion Ditch,” he added. “When the water level in the Diversion Ditch touches the bottom of the Northpark bridges, the bridge acts as a dam and water levels upstream rise rapidly.” That forces water into Bens Branch, threatening homes and businesses on either side of it.
Remembering Stan Sarman
Bloch worked with former TIRZ president Stan Sarman, who was also an engineer, to approach Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin and CoH about the need for this project. They agreed that sediment removal from the Diversion Ditch under the Northpark Bridges would help reduce flood risk in Woodland Hills, Hunters Ridge, Bear Branch and Kings Forest.
Martin’s office arranged for the purchase order to get this project done.
Bloch took video during Imelda and shared it with Sarman, who had the original drawings of the bridge and channel from 1972. He is quick to give credit to Sarman who has since passed away. “I am not sure most Kingwood residents appreciate all Sarman did for Kingwood,” said Bloch.
This project and the repair of the channel under the Tree Lane Bridge are valued at nearly $1 million dollars.
The LHRA/TIRZ are now providing weekly updates of construction activity so you can see what’s coming next.
Come back soon for more updates. The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority will hold a public board meeting Thursday at 8 a.m. at the Kingwood Community Center to discuss this and other business.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/9/2023
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