Tag Archive for: Construction Update

Demolition of Old Kingwood Middle School Beginning

Contractors have fenced off the old Kingwood Middle School and started demolishing the driveways and parking lots, including the area where the school’s new permanent detention pond will go. Meanwhile, the new Kingwood Middle School building is nearing completion behind the old one. Largely invisible from the ground behind construction fencing, the aerial photos below show the progress of construction.

Pictures Taken on 6/12/22

Main entrance to old Kingwood Middle School now fenced off and being torn up. Plans show permanent detention pond going here.

One significant difference between the old facility and the new one: a detention pond that should help reduce the risk of local flooding in an era of higher, post-Harvey Atlas-14 rainfall probabilities.

Side parking lot and temporary detention pond in foreground. Old and new buildings in background. Looking NW.
New vs. old: Three stories compared to one.
Looking SW at entire complex. Athletic fields will replace the old building in background.
New building now completely dried in. Contractors focusing on finishing the interior work.
Old building in foreground will soon be demolished leaving a vast expanse of green in front of this gorgeous community showcase.

Out with Old, In With New

All along, the plan has been to tear down the old school when the new one is ready for students. Athletic facilities, formerly behind the old building will move in front of the new building.

It’s a delicate ballet. Dozens of cars were parked along Cedar Knolls today as workers scramble to get the facility ready for the next school year.

Humble ISD’s web page for this project contains artists renderings that will help you visualize the result. Humble ISD did not return phone calls today to discuss more details about the construction, old-building demolition and a completion date. But I will keep you posted as I get more information.

To see the progress of construction, visit these pages on ReduceFlooding.com.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/13/22

1750 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Laurel Springs RV Resort Update: Mysterious Black Spots and Other News

In the two weeks since I last posted about the “RV Resort” under construction on Laurel Springs Lane, a lot has happened. Among other things, I’ve noticed contractors repeatedly covering up black spots in the detention pond that have a habit of mysteriously reappearing.

Mysterious Black Spots Keep Reappearing

Photo taken 3/5/22. Note difference of color in puddles just inches from each other.
Wide shot also taken on 3/5 shows bulldozer filling in one black area while another leaks into pond. Note streak in water and see below.
Also taken 3/5. Pond was being manually pumped into Lakewood Cove Storm sewer system and thence into Lake Houston. The pumping explains the streak.
On 3/10/22, I noted these black areas at the western end of the pond emerging from freshly bulldozed areas.
Photo taken 3/11. The situation was worse and the bulldozers were back.
On 3/14, the floor of the detention pond had been smoothed out, but the black spots were making another embarrassing comeback.
Close up of same spot taken on 3/15.

I have dozens of other shots that show similar patterns. But you get the idea.

I asked the Railroad Commission if they could identify oil seepage from photos. The answer was no. But they did send an investigator out. Unfortunately, he arrived after everything had been covered up.

The contractor acknowledged the black spots, but claimed they were just seepage from rotting mulch. But why would a contractor place mulch below an area being excavated? That would just raise the level of the pond they were deepening. The mystery continues.

The Railroad Commission of Texas found no records of abandoned oil or gas wells on this property, although many are nearby.

As a show of good faith, I wish the developer would have an independent lab confirm what this stuff is now that it’s being pumped to a storm sewer system that feeds into Lake Houston.

Other Recent Activity

In other news:

  • The developer has removed hundreds of truckloads of debris from below the detention pond.
  • They have excavated material from the southern walls of the pond and moved it north. This effectively shifted the pond back onto the developer’s property while elevating other portions of the property.
  • Contractors erected posts for what appears will be a chain link fence at the southern edge of the resort.
  • Contractors have finished tying the detention pond into the Lakewood Cove Storm Sewer system.
  • They also installed more underground drainage throughout the property.

The photographs below illustrate the points above.

Photo taken 2/23/22 shows part of debris pulled up from south of detention pond. Also note the black spots in the detention pond.
Taken 3/16/22. Photo courtesy of reader. Used with permission. Note fence posts along left. These would appear to confirm the property boundary.
The detention pond intake valve in the foreground is now connected with the pump housings on higher ground. However, the pumps may not yet be installed. And the housing still looks sealed off. Photo taken 3/15/22.
Additional dirt is being brought in to raise the elevation of the site. Photo taken 3/13/22. Note water still ponding on site from a half inch of rain on 3/15. This soil is not as porous as the stormwater pollution prevention plan claims.
Rebar being laid for the next concrete pour on 3/14/22.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 3/16/22

1660 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Kingwood Middle School: February Update

Aerial photos taken last week show a beautiful new Kingwood Middle School with an open, airy design taking shape.

Pictures Taken on 1/29/22

Glass enclosed atrium will look out over athletic fields where existing school now is.
Existing school, bottom left, will be torn down to make room for athletic fields.
Overhangs (not yet with roofs) will help provide protection from direct sun.
View of entire school from over Woodland Hills Drive, looking NE.
Looking E from over Woodland Hills Drive.
Looking W from over Cedar Knolls Drive reveals drop off/pickup driveway behind school.

Humble ISD still says the new Kingwood Middle School will open in 2022. This video on the ISD website explains more about the design and amenities of the new school…including the drop-off/pickup driveway shown above that should help reduce traffic congestion on neighboring streets. Classrooms in the new school will be about 200 square feet larger.

Sending an Important Message to Students

A permanent detention pond near the semi-circular drive in front of old Kingwood Middle School will eventually replace the temporary pond in the lower left of the image above. It’s exciting to see the Humble ISD making flood reduction a part of its plans for the future. That sends an important message to students and provides an opportunity for learning.

It was only a little more than a year ago that this site was nothing more than dirt and a dream.

To see the progress of construction, compare the pictures above to those in previous posts.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/6/22

1622 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Kingwood Middle School: November Construction Update

Construction of the new Kingwood Middle School appears on schedule for opening with the next school year in 2022. Compared to my October update, no new major milestones have been reached. Everything just looks a little further along.

Kingwood Middle School Construction Sequencing

Construction started on the west and is moving toward the east. As subcontractors finish one phase such as foundations or structural , the next group picks up the baton and works on roofing, exterior walls, windows, etc.

The most visible change between October and November: progress on exterior walls and roofing.

I took all the pictures below on Saturday, November 6, 2021.

Looking W. Judging from the amount of erosion around the banks, the temporary detention pond appears to be getting a lot of use. This pond will be replaced with a larger permanent one after the old school is demolished to make room for it.
Insulation, vapor barriers, brick and glass now surround more than half the site now. Roofing on the westernmost section looks complete. But many roofing materials remain stacked on other sections.
Looking south with the old school visible in the top of the frame.
Masons have completed the brickwork on large portions of the westernmost section. Shot taken from over Woodland Hills, looking east.
Portions of the exterior at the west end still need work, but it’s more done than not.
A view from the SE looking NW clearly shows the degree of finish evident in the left, middle and right sections.
Low level shot shows middle section on left.

Next Steps for KMS

Next steps will be to dry-in the structure by completing the exterior walls, windows and roofs. The other trades will then start working on interior walls, electrical, wallboard, paint and flooring – all the things that could be destroyed by blowing rain.

I put two kids through the old Kingwood Middle School who became happy, healthy, successful adults. As I look at these pictures, fond memories of plays, recitals, teacher conferences, and athletic contests come to mind. Each month, as the old school comes closer to demolition, I become increasing nostalgic. We will soon witness the end of one era and the start of another in Kingwood.

Architectural renderings on the Humble ISD site inspire confidence that the next generation of Kingwood Middle School students will have an even better learning environment than the last.

And cross your fingers! Despite double the impervious cover now on the site, I have received no reports of flooding from neighbors.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/11/2021

1535 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Despite Heavy Rains, KMS Reconstruction Progressing Nicely

Since my last update, Kingwood Middle School (KMS) reconstruction has progressed nicely despite heavy rains and a tropical storm in the last month. My rain gage, a few blocks away recorded more than 11 inches of rain in the last 30 days – almost triple the average for September.

My last update on August 20 showed that contractors had erected most of the structural steel, but large parts of superstructure were still open. Today, almost the entire roof is on and most of the structure has been walled or glassed in.

It was barely 10 months ago, that this site was nothing but dirt, a dream, and a detention pond.

Photos Showing Status of KMS Reconstruction as of 10/3/21

Here are pictures of KMS reconstruction taken this afternoon with a drone.

KMS reconstruction as of 10.3.21. Looking SE from over Woodland Hills Blvd.
Looking N across roof of old KMS. Woodland Hills Blvd on left. Note how left (western) part of building is already bricked in. When new KMS is complete, the old one will be torn down.

Plans call for reconstructing the athletic fields on the site of the old school and building a permanent, larger detention pond where the circular drive in the foreground is.

It’s hard to tell from this angle, but temporary detention pond had barely emptied from yesterday’s deluge.
Only one small section in lower left remains without roof.
The new KMS will go up instead of out to create the needed capacity for students
As construction moves in phases from NW to SE, you see different degrees of finish.

Humble ISD still expects the school to open for the 2022 school year. For more information about the plans for the building, see the District’s web site. Find updates on other new construction from the 2018 bond here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/3/2021

1496 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Education Going Higher; Construction Updates on Two New Schools

Two new schools in the Kingwood area are building up, not out. Hopefully, this trend will, in a small way, reduce the percentage of impervious cover and create room for detention ponds to capture stormwater runoff.

Earlier this week, I photographed Kingwood Middle School and West Fork High School construction. As of mid-August, the structural steel work for both is almost complete.

Kingwood Middle School Replacement

The site looks crowded now, but when the new three story facility is complete, athletic fields and a giant detention pond will replace the old facility.

Looking west toward Woodland Hills Drive. KMS Construction as of mid-August 2021
Looking east from over Woodland Hills
This view looking north makes it easy to compare the height of the old and new buildings.
The structural steel work has reached its eastern limit.

To see the progress, compare the pictures above to those in previous posts.

Humble ISD has set the target opening date of the new KMS for 2022.

New Caney ISD West Fork High School

Several weeks ago, New Caney ISD named its third high school the West Fork High School. It too will be a three story structure, and is going up between Sorters-McClellan Road and US59 south of Kingwood Drive.

Looking NNE over the new campus toward Kingwood Medical Center. Insperity, and Kingwood Drive. US59 in upper right.
Wider shot looking NNW toward the West Fork shows a large detention pond in the foreground is now grassed in. However, note sediment entering the pond through storm sewers that drain the site.
Looking SW toward Sorters-McClellan Road and West Fork. River is mostly hidden behind trees. For reference, note Costco in upper left.

Note the football field and track taking shape in the left middle of the frame and the field house still going up next to it.

To see the progress, compare the pictures in these posts:

New Caney ISD expects to complete construction by the summer of 2022.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/20/2021

1452 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Woodridge Village Turns Into Beehive of Construction Activity

Last year, overland sheet flow from Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village contributed to flooding hundreds of homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice. Construction slowed last fall, but has now turned into a beehive of activity. Just days before a deadline for a deal with the Harris County and the City of Houston to buy the property. Yesterday, dozens of pieces of heavy equipment swarmed over the northern section.

Visible Changes Since April 21st Flyover

Since my April 21st flyover:

  • Excavation of the N1 detention pond started
  • Excavation of the N2 detention pond continues.
  • N3 is surprisingly far along, perhaps 30-50% complete
  • Contractors are filling in wetlands and bogs with dirt excavated from detention ponds
  • They are building a concrete pilot channel down the east/west portion of Taylor Gulley
  • And they appear to be blocking out some roads.

These construction crews appear to have completed more work in the last month than the original contractors did in the last year.

Purchase Deal Faces May 15 Deadline

Perry originally set a May 15 deadline for a City/County commitment to purchase the property. Perry said that if they didn’t receive a commitment by then, they would continue to develop the Woodridge Village property and to try to sell it on the private market.

When Harris County commissioners last met, they put two conditions on a purchase:

  • That the cash-poor City of Houston donate land worth $7 million (half the purchase price) to Harris County Flood Control District, to help defray the cost of other other flood-mitigation projects.
  • That the City of Houston adopt NOAA’s latest Atlas 14 precipitation frequency estimates.

Sources close to the deal believe that if Perry Homes gets a firm commitment by the 15th, that will keep negotiations open.

However, the last City Council meeting before the deadline starts this afternoon (May 12). Donation of land to Harris County Flood Control is not on the agenda. Neither is an Atlas-14 resolution.

Harris County Commissioners Court publishes the agenda this Friday for their Tuesday, May 19th meeting.

Pictures of Work in Progress as of 5/11/2020

Below are pictures of the Woodridge Village work in progress. All were taken on 5/11/2020. It certainly appears as though Perry Homes is hedging its bets in case the City and County don’t come through with an offer. For orientation purposes, the first image shows where detention ponds go.

Location of detention ponds within Perry Homes’ property.
Looking south along the eastern property line of Woodridge Village at excavation of the N3 detention pond.
Looking southeast from the northwest corner of Woodridge near the Webb Street entrance. Shows initial work on the N2 pond.
Looking southeast. Activity is where Mace Street extension into Woodridge Village would go.
N2 Detention Pond Extension
Filling in the bog adjacent to Woodland Hills. Note mud on left side of photo.
Looking north from SW corner. S1 is in foreground. S2 is in upper right. N2 is triangular area in upper left.
A tighter shot looking north along western boundary with N2 in foregroundyou can see three distinct zones of activity.
Hovering over Village Springs in Elm Grove, looking north along eastern property boundary. S2 is in middle and N3 is taking shape above that.
Where Taylor Gully makes a turn north of S2, contractors are installing a concrete pilot channel.
Looking NW across northern section. Taylor Gully is on bottom left. S2 on upper right. Dirt excavated from various ponds is being used to fill in wetlands, center.
Middle of eastern boundary, excavation work continues on N3 and a channel that will lead down to Taylor Gully.

After months of foot dragging, construction activity at Woodridge is now in high gear. Perry Homes says it expects to finish work on the detention ponds sometime this summer.

Sale or no sale, that’s good. Hurricane season is just a little more than two weeks away. These ponds won’t be fully functional by then, but every little bit helps.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/12/2020

987 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 236 since Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Construction Update: Perry Homes Adding Storm Sewers, Berm to Woodridge Village

Here’s a construction update for Perry Homes’ Woodridge Village, the stalled development implicated in flooding Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice last year.

On January 25, 2020, I flew over Woodridge Village. Not much had changed since my December flyover. However, Perry Homes, had concreted about 280 feet of Taylor Gully on the east side of the development facing North Kingwood Forest. And they started to build a berm between Woodridge Village and Elm Grove. Finally, they have started prep work for building more streets. See images below.

Overview of Construction Activity

Homes in North Kingwood Forest (bottom right) flooded twice in 2019 when water from the Taylor Gulley channel behind them overflowed. In December and January, Perry Homes, the ultimate developer of clearcut area called Woodridge Village, lined a portion of that channel with concrete.
Closer View: Perry Homes also erected a berm along the southern edge of the kite-shaped S2 detention pond. Note the lack of activity above the pond.

Slanting Berm Between Elm Grove and Woodridge

Since the January flyover, Perry Homes has continued to build up a berm south of the S2 detention pond. The height of the berm is about 3-4 feet immediately west of Taylor Gulley (grassy channel in lower right). It tapers down to nothing before you get to Fair Grove Drive, one long block to the west (out of frame to the left in picture above).

Note height of berm at end of Village Springs Drive, adjacent to Taylor Gulley. Erosion from berm is already starting to collapse silt fence in numerous areas. Photo taken 2/8/2020.
Looking east from opposite end of pond. At Fair Grove Drive, the berm is below the level of Elm Grove homes behind the tree line on the right. Photo taken 2/8/2020.

Whether Perry intends to build up the western portion of the berm is unclear. If they intend to go west beyond the point above and continue the berm south of the S1 pond, they have not yet done so.

The Strange Case of the Elevated Swale

Perry Homes has now dug a ditch at the peak of the berm to act as a backslope interceptor swale. Such a swale is designed to reduce erosion on the slopes of a detention pond by channeling water through pipes instead (note concrete opening of one such pipe in distance). Photo taken 2/8/2020.

Originally, I thought the berm might be the missing maintenance road that Montgomery County regulations specify around detention ponds. However, yesterday, Perry Homes’ contractor etched a ditch in the middle of the berm. I guess this ditch will act as the backslope interceptor swale, another requirement of detention ponds in Montgomery County.

Such swales channel water into ponds through pipes installed at low points. Their purpose: to prevent runoff from surrounding areas from flowing over the edge of ditches and causing erosion.

Except in this case, water from the surrounding areas would have to flow uphill several feet to get to the swale. So the swale will only channel water that falls directly on it.

No New Detention Ponds

No new detention ponds have been created since last August.

Prep Work for New Streets

However, Perry Homes is starting to add new storm drains to areas where roads have not yet reached on the north side of the S2 detention pond.

Storm drains being added to the north side of the S2 detention pond. Photo taken 2/8/2020. Note rilling (erosion) along side of pond.

Perry Had Promised No New Streets Until All Detention Ponds In

Point #1 in Perry Homes’ letter to the City Attorney about remediation efforts promised that Perry would delay additional street construction until three detention ponds on the northern part of Woodridge Village were complete. But as you can see from the first photo above, no additional detention ponds have even been started on the northern portion of the site.

Possible Impact of Changes on Flooding

The concrete channel will reduce erosion, but will do nothing to reduce flooding. As you can see from the video below, taken by Jeff Miller after a minor rain, Perry Homes needs the three additional detention ponds they promised in 2017, two and a half years ago, to reduce flooding.

The berm may redirect flooding. The berm has the potential to change the location of flooding. As floodwaters build up in the S2 pond shown above, they will eventually rise above the overflow channel between the concrete portion of Taylor Gulley and the pond. When that happens, the water will go around the berm. It could happen on two sides. On the west at Fair Grove (above) and on the east at Taylor Gulley (below).

Video by Jeff Miller after light rain on Jan. 28th shows flow from north side of Woodridge Village into Taylor Gulley. There should be a massive detention pond beyond the black fence. Taylor Gully concrete channel is approximately one-third full on about a third of an inch of rain before this point in the day. See graph below. Photo taken around 5pm.
The closest official gage at West Lake Houston Parkway showed 0.32 inches of rain before Miller took the photo above.

On the east side of the concrete portion of Taylor Gulley, notice how the edge slants down toward North Kingwood Forest (out of frame on the right).

Note levels on either side of the concrete culvert shown in aerial photos above. S2 detention pond is out of frame to left and North Kingwood Forest to right. Photo taken 2/8/2020.

Once floodwater gets into North Kingwood Forest, experience has shown that it will flow through streets into Elm Grove, bypassing Taylor Gulley.

Storm sewers, once connected to the detention ponds, will simply shorten the time of accumulation after heavy rains and fill the ponds even faster. That usually results in higher peaks. Again, without additional detention, there is no flood-reduction benefit for downstream residents.

Posted by Bob Rehak with help from Jeff Miller on 2/9/2020

894 Days after Hurricane Harvey and 143 after Imelda

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.