Note: This post contains a correction to Matt Zeve’s title; he is Deputy Executive Director at Harris County Flood Control.
The Army Corps of Engineers today released this graphic showing the extent of West Fork dredging progress to date. Dredging will extend from River Grove Park on the west King’s Harbor on the east.
Original Schedule Included Months of Prep
The Corps expected the project to take 270 days or 9 months. The clock started ticking on July 21, 2018, when the Corps awarded the job to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock and its subcontractor Callan Marine.
Great Lakes subcontracted part of the job because it was time sensitive and Callan had a dredge that could start quickly. In fact, Callan began sooner than Great Lakes. Both companies spent considerable time on site assembling the dredges. Welding more than six miles of 24 inch HDPE dredge pipe and maneuvering it into place also required upfront time. Then both companies had to calibrate dredging rates with three booster pumps. Make no mistake; this is a huge undertaking.
Two months after the contract award, the first dredge moved downriver to its starting position on September 19th. A month later, on October 25th, the second dredge moved downriver. So out of the the 9 months, it took two and three months respectively just to start the dredging. Then we had three floods between December 7 and January 7 that caused pauses in the action.
Slow but Steady Progress
Backing out floods and prep time, we need to evaluate the progress shown above on a SIX month “actual-dredging” timetable, not the nine months budgeted for the entire job. Visually, it appears that they are roughly half completed and roughly half of the six months has expired. That’s reassuring. Especially knowing that the dredging has proved more difficult than expected. Crews periodically must stop to remove roots and aquatic vegetation from the dredge cutter heads.
Nagging Uncertainty Remains about Mouth Bar and Upstream
The questions readers keep asking, though, are “Will we be able to save all of that investment in upfront time?” And “Will we be able to start dredging the mouth bar before the start of next hurricane season starts on June 1?”
Corps bids showed that mobilization and demobilization cost 25% of the total job, roughly $18 million. Starting the mouth bar project as soon as the current project completes could save that money. It’s enough to do a lot more dredging. Maybe even open up the boat launch that the County hopes to build at its new Edgewater Park near US 59.
New Congressman Dan Crenshaw Jumping In
Dan Crenshaw, the Lake Houston Area’s new US Congressman seems to be jumping into flooding issues with both feet. He announced today that he has been appointed to Congressional Budget and Homeland Security committees. The budget committee assignment should put him in a good position to help accelerate flood mitigation measures.
Crenshaw has already met with Harris County with Flood Control District Deputy Executive Director Matt Zeve and Professional Engineer Ian Hudson to get an update on projects in Texas’s Second Congressional District. Those include both cleanup projects and flood mitigation projects. Crenshaw also met on Monday with Houston City Councilman Dave Martin, in which they discussed the importance of these projects. I also hear he is meeting the Army Corps and developers of the new high-rise project proposed for Kingwood.
Said Crenshaw, “Our district has been through so much because of Hurricane Harvey. I’m grateful for all the hard work our local and federal officials have done to prepare us for the next storm. I’m excited to get to work to ensure the people of TX-02 are able to make a full recovery and put Harvey in the rearview mirror.”
Something tells me that Crenshaw will bring the zeal of a SEAL to this job.
Posted on January 23, 2019 by Bob Rehak
512 days since Hurricane Harvey