Tag Archive for: Entergy

Entergy Escalates Battle with COH over Northpark

Entergy power poles sit on City of Houston (COH) rights-of-way. The company also runs underground wires in an easement near US59. Yet after years of discussion, the company still has not moved them to make room for the widening of Northpark Drive. Nor did the company comply with a request by the City to say how it would move them by a March 8th deadline.

The Northpark project is intended, in part, to create an all-weather evacuation route for 78,000 people who live in the Kingwood area. Rising floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey cut off escape routes along Hamblen Road, Kingwood Drive, and West Lake Houston Parkway.

Offending Entergy poles where Northpark will be widened for turn lanes next to the bridge over UP railroad tracks.

First Notified in 2020 and Still No Action

On 2/10/24, I detailed how Entergy was first notified about the project in 2020. Yet the company has moved nothing along Northpark to make room for construction. Groundbreaking for the project was last April and construction began last July.

So, COH put Entergy on notice. It wrote a letter, discussed in last week’s LHRA board meeting, that was dated 2/6/24. The letter requested Entergy to submit a proposed schedule and plan by last Friday detailing how it would relocate its facilities within 30 days.

That letter was dated 2/6/24, meaning the equipment should be moved and out of the way by 3/8/24.

Entergy Response Contained Only Hypothetical Schedule

ReduceFlooding.com has learned that Entergy replied to COH Public Works by last Friday as requested. But the reply did not indicate how they would move their equipment by 3/8/24. Nor did it address why Entergy could not meet the 30-day deadline or why the company has taken no action since 2020.

Instead the response suggested Entergy needed many more months, but committed to no firm deadline, according to a COH spokesperson.

Entergy and LHRA had already worked through potential conflicts with other utilities. So, resolving conflicts was not the issue.

I do not have a copy of the Entergy letter to reprint at this time; an Entergy spokesperson refused to provide it, citing potential legal concerns. As a result of the Entergy letter, LHRA has now asked to meet with the City Attorney.

Cost Escalation Possible

Continued delays are escalating the stakes. The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (LHRA), which is acting as an agent of the City, has costly contractual obligations to its contractors.

Given the rate of inflation, delays could also reduce the purchasing power of LHRA’s budget. In the last four years, inflation in the construction sector has totaled 15-20%. And this project costs more than $75 million. Yet the original budget included only $3 million for change orders.

A legal battle could take years to resolve. That could needlessly put lives at risk and inconvenience tens of thousands of people daily.

Entergy Motive, Next Steps Unclear

It’s not clear what Entergy – a $4 billion company in Texas alone – hopes to gain through continued delays.

In the past, Entergy asked for compensation to move its poles. But according to an LHRA spokesperson, compensation is not allowable under Texas law because the poles were in a City right of way and not covered by an easement. Thus, any payment would have constituted a “gift of public funds,” which the Texas Constitution prohibits.

Entergy was, however, legally entitled to compensation for moving buried wires in an easement near the Exxon station at US59. Entergy had agreed to move them for $711,000.

Then, within days after the disagreement about payment for relocating the poles, Entergy’s asking price to move the underground wires mysteriously increased by half a million dollars. Simultaneously, their cost estimate went from line item to lump sum – without itemization. Since then, the asking price has increased another $200,000 without explanation.

LHRA has asked to meet with the City Attorney to discuss options and next steps. More news to follow.

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/10/2024

2365 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.

Entergy in City’s Crosshairs, Northpark Lane Closures Announced

The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ 10 (LHRA/TIRZ) Board Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, focused almost exclusively on issues that have delayed the Northpark expansion project. LHRA/TIRZ also announced lane closures beginning Feb. 19, 2024.

One Source of Hold Ups Resolved, Another Remains

The Northpark expansion project is designed to move more traffic faster and to create an all-weather evacuation route for 78,000 Kingwood residents in the event of another major flood, such as Hurricane Harvey.

Two major hold ups have been:

  • Reaching right-of-way agreements with Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
  • Getting utilities, such as CenterPoint and Entergy, to move gas and electric lines.

As of this week, all railroad agreements have been resolved.

Approval of the agreements by the Houston City Council should be a formality.

And CenterPoint should complete the relocation of their gas lines within a week or two.

However, Entergy has not even started relocating its equipment. They were given notice four years ago to do so.

The board discussed the possibility of condemning an existing Entergy easement within the limits of Northpark Drive right of way, but ultimately decided to defer action for one more month. The outcome is inevitable. Entergy must move its equipment. But members hope to avoid the expense and delays of litigation involved in a condemnation proceeding.

It is unclear what Entergy hopes to gain through delays. In the meantime, it is jeopardizing its public image in the most densely populated part of its Texas service area.

Entergy Must Resolve Three Problems

Entergy has:

  • Utility poles it must move out of the City’s right of way.
  • A transformer next to the Exxon station at US59 on LHRA/TIRZ property.
  • Underground electricity lines that would be paved over in several places.

The existing wood poles between 494 and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch are in the City’s right-of-way. Entergy has sought reimbursement to move those, however, they are on City property and not entitled to reimbursement.

The transformer next to the Exxon station now sits on property purchased from Exxon by the LHRA/TIRZ.

Entergy wants 52 weeks and more than a million dollars to move this transformer in the Exxon parking lot at US59 and Northpark Drive.

Regarding the third item, utilities commonly run electricity lines under streets in urban environments. But Entergy apparently does not want that in this case and has not made arrangements to move the lines.

To resolve such conflicts, LHRA agreed to pay Entergy $711,000 in July last year. But then a consultant for Entergy demanded $1.462 million – doubling the costs. LHRA balked. The extra money wasn’t and isn’t in the budget. Neither were the cost increases itemized. Said another way, Entergy didn’t break down what caused the price increases.

Itemized Costs Being Demanded

To make sure Entergy is not folding in un-reimbursable costs such as relocating poles in rights of way with allowable relocation costs for the transformer, Ralph De Leon, project manager for LHRA, said he has requested itemized costs and a schedule of values for each part of the job from Entergy.

A schedule of values includes such things as material costs as well as labor costs. For instance, one line item might read, “X people at $Y/hr times Z hours.” He also wants to see that schedule signed and stamped by a licensed PE, whose license could be revoked for falsifying information.

Entergy First Notified in 2020

The LHRA Board reviewed a history of attempts to resolve the Entergy conflict issues. They included 22 meetings/discussions between October 2020 and January 2024.

  • October 2020: Began coordinating utility impacts with Entergy and other utility companies (at 60% design stage).  Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • December 2020: Entergy reached out and asked if there were opportunities for relocation reimbursement.  Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • January 2021: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • February 2021: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • March 2021: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • June 2021: Began discussions regarding the ground transformer near Exxon gas station.  M&S had preliminary plans prepared.
  • February 2022: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • March 2022: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • April 2022: Held COH utility coordination meeting.
  • July 2022: M&S determined that their preliminary plans were incorrect and had assumed overhead line relocations for crossing over Northpark Drive.
  • August 2022: M&S noted that their utilities were in an easement and would require reimbursement from LHRA.
  • September 2022: Additional correspondence regarding reimbursement for relocations.  Teams meeting with M&S to discuss relocations.
  • October 21, 2022: M&S provided a draft cost estimate via email.  Total estimated costs for the relocations were $1,218,000.
  • January 2023: Field meeting with M&S, AT&T and Exxon representative to discuss relocations on Exxon property. M&S provided easement documentation for their utilities and continued discussion about reimbursement.  Wade Carpenter (Entergy attorney) began involvement in the conversations.
  • February 2023: Entergy attorneys reviewing the matter internally.
  • March 3, 2023: M&S noted that utility relocations in easement (primarily west of Loop 494) would cost $710,000 and would be seeking reimbursements for these relocations.  For utility relocations east of Loop 494, those would cost approx. $500,000 and Entergy deemed these costs as non-reimbursable as they are not in easement.
  • May 17, 2023: M&S confirmed that relocation costs west or Loop 494 are reimbursable ($710,000) and relocation costs east of Loop 494 ($500,00) are non-reimbursable.
  • July 19, 2023: M&S provided draft agreement for relocations with relocation costs shown to be $711,186.26.
  • August 2023: Coordination with M&S on timeline of relocations.
  • October 2023: M&S noted that they are waiting for the go ahead to send plans to construction group.
  • December 2023: Coordination with M&S regarding fiber companies attached to their poles.  M&S provided an update relocation cost estimate with a new total being $1,462,135.57.
  • January 2024: Coordination with M&S on timeline of relocations.

M&S is an Entergy consultant.

30-Day Deadline Given on Feb. 6, 2024

On February 6, 2024, Carol Haddock, Director of Houston Public Works, sent Entergy a letter giving the company 30-days to move its property. The letter included a request to submit a timeline for the relocations by Feb. 16.

Haddock’s letter parallels one sent by LHRA/TIRZ10 on Nov. 9, 2020, which the City says suffices as proper legal notification. That’s because the LHRA/TIRZ10 is acting as an agent of the City.

The City’s position is that Entergy is not moving into the City’s footprint. But the city is getting bigger and expanding into Entergy’s footprint. It appears that the City has the upper hand at the moment.

Impact of Delays

De Leon believes the City’s letter will resolve enough issues to keep crews busy for now. Next up:

  • Continuing excavation of two stormwater detention ponds at US59 and Northpark
  • Placement of box culverts in the middle ditch
  • Creation of some temporary lanes on the north side of Northpark.

However, he admits that the Entergy delays have caused problems. Instead of following the optimal critical path, his contractors are hopscotching around to keep crews busy.

If Entergy continues to delay, he could face contractual penalties, including costly demobilization.

Lane Closure Announced

LHRA/TIRZ posted this announcement on its project website. It affects westbound traffic.

“Beginning February 19th, Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority’s (LHRA’s) contractor, Harper Brothers Construction will be closing the right two lanes of westbound traffic near the Northpark/I-69 intersection.  The first month of this closure will leave two westbound lanes open – the existing left turn lane and one through lane.  The next 3 months of the closure will switch traffic onto the newly constructed lanes while construction of the existing left turn lane and through lane are completed. Westbound traffic should expect delays and alternative routes are encouraged.  For this phase of work the contractor will be installing new storm sewer pipes and inlets along with new concrete roadway.”

Two westbound lane closures beginning Feb. 19 circled in red.

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/10/2024

2356 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Excavation of Northpark Detention Basins Starts

Excavation of the decorative ponds that will double as Northpark detention basins at US59 began this week.

Contractors will stockpile the dirt in two places for now: behind Duncan Donuts and at a sand mine on Sorters-McClellan Road several blocks to the west. Contractors will use the dirt later to level the road surface and build access ramps for the bridge over the Union-Pacific Railroad tracks.

In other Northpark-expansion news this week, Entergy still has not started moving its utility poles and transformer.

However, CenterPoint has almost finished relocating its gas line under the road’s center drainage ditch to the south side of the road. CenterPoint also surveyed the north side of the street to place a second line there.

Finally, the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (LHRA) is close to finalizing a drainage agreement with the Union-Pacific Railroad. For more details, see below.

Beginning of Entry Pond Excavation

Contractors will excavate the entry ponds/detention basins in several stages. For now, they will excavate down to the water table. Later, they will excavate below the water table, pumping water into new storm sewers as they dig.

Then they will place a liner at the bottom of each pond.

Finally, the ponds will be filled to the level of the storm sewers with a combination of well- and rainwater. But that will come much later.

The distance between the top of water in the ponds and the surface of the ground will retain stormwater to help prevent flooding of the intersection during heavy rains.

The photos below were all taken on 1/13/2024.

Looking at beginning of excavation of north pond. US59 and feeder on left, Northpark on right.
Looking west toward US59 bridge. These contractors appear to be defining the margins of the pond. Note stakes.
Excavated dirt on right waiting for shipment to a stockpile. Note storm drain on left and the wet earth that indicates proximity to water table.

Bens Branch, which crosses under 59 farther north, often overflows and backs up toward the Northpark intersection. The pipe above will carry water into the pond instead, thus reducing flood risk.

Start of one stockpile behind Duncan Donuts and Public Storage.

Where the Dirt Will Go

The stockpiled dirt will eventually be used to level the roadway over box culverts (when installation is complete) and also to build up ramps for the bridge over the railroad tracks.

When contractors finish placing box culverts, the stockpiled dirt will help level the center of the roadway, which will contain two additional lanes of traffic – one going each direction.

The bed must be raised to the level of the manhole shown above.
Looking west toward 59. Power lines belong to Entergy. They must be moved back to approximately where the fire hydrant is now. Yellow/green flags indicate route of new CenterPoint gas line.

Moving the utility poles back will create room for turn lanes next to the bridge over the rail tracks. The turn lanes must be at ground level for traffic turning north or south onto Loop 494.

Project managers first asked Entergy to move its power lines 2020. The utility still has taken no action. Ditto for the transformer below located near the Exxon station at 59.

Entergy transformer in red circle must also be moved back to make way for additional turn lanes.

An Entergy consultant claimed the company needed 50 weeks to move the transformer above.

The City is reportedly considering legal action against Entergy because of construction delays.

Meanwhile, Entergy continues to promote its social responsibility, even as it holds up construction of the only all-weather evacuation route for 78,000 people.

Railroad Agreement Should Be Resolved by End of January

In the good-news department, the last remaining issue with UP will hopefully be resolved within a couple weeks, according to project manager Ralph De Leon. The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority sought permission to tunnel stormwater under the UP tracks to Ditch One. The railroad company required no more than a quarter-inch displacement of the tracks. Engineers figured out way to do it by splitting the flow from one pipe through two smaller pipes.

The Agreement covers both the aerial easement over UP’s tracks for the bridge and the railroad’s acceptance of the Construction Plans. The stormwater drainage pipes under the tracks held up UP’s final approval of the plans. Now that that has been resolved, UPRR is ready to accept the plans.  

Approval by the City will occur in the form of an Ordinance adopted by City Council.

The City of Houston contributed $15.4 million to the Northpark Project. Here is the contract between the City and Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority.

For More Information

De Leon said, “Once the UP agreement is signed, and CenterPoint and Entergy relocate their utilities, we can start building roads. Residents should then see a significant increase in in construction activity.”

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/13/24

2328 Days since Hurricane Harvey

What Some Utilities Don’t Understand about Northpark Expansion Project

Foot dragging by utilities has set the Northpark expansion project back years. What none seems to understand is that this isn’t just a normal road expansion project. It’s about creating a reliable, all-weather evacuation route for 78,000 people.

The utilities see the project as a headache. Traumatized residents see it as a lifeline.

And that’s your problem in two, simple sentences.

Evacuation Routes Under Water

Unless you lived here during Harvey, you cannot comprehend the terror of people trapped by rising floodwaters with no way out. By my count, 15 died including 12 elderly who resided near Kingwood’s Town Center, 1.25 miles north of the San Jacinto. Another died two miles north of the river. And two more died near where the East and West Forks of the San Jacinto come together. That makes almost a quarter of the 65 people who died in Harvey across all of Harris County.

Many of my neighbors crowded on the upper floors of homes and in their attics, surrounded by rising floodwaters, praying that they would live through the night. Boats evacuated the lucky ones.

Before power went out and cell phones died, I received several panicked calls from neighbors asking if I knew a way out. They had already tried everything I suggested.

I was out of town when Harvey struck and couldn’t get back in. My wife was home alone, without food, a way to cook, running water, power, a working toilet, or communication. I didn’t know if she was alive or dead. She made it through, but the uncertainty kept me up for days.

I later learned that five evacuation routes out of Kingwood had flooded badly. A sixth to the north was passable… if you could get to it.

Harvey Photos Show Depth of Water

See the pictures below. Hamblen Road was the first to go.

Hamblen Road during Harvey. Photo by Jim Balcom. His family evacuated by boat.

The West Lake Houston Parkway (WLHP) Bridge also became inaccessible. While the bridge remained above water, roads leading to it were under water.

Evacuation from Kings Harbor Townhomes one block from WLHP bridge.
Sally Geis, rescued from the townhomes above made it out by boat. This shows her motoring by the Whataburger on WLHP north of Kingwood Drive, 1.7 miles north of the bridge.
That’s the top of a submerged car at the Kingwood Town Center Apartments near the library, one block west of WLHP.

Kingwood Drive flooded for almost three miles between Timber Shade and Woodland Hills.

Kingwood Drive at Shady Run.
Kingwood High School at Valley Manor flooded to the second floor. Kingwood Drive is in the tree line left of the parking lot.
US59 southbound was cut off by 240,000 cubic feet of floodwater per second. It damaged the southbound lanes of the bridge so badly that they took 11 months to rebuild.

Ford Road was generally passable…if you could get to it. Many who lived close by, even in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest could not reach it.

That leaves Northpark Drive. It too was blocked in places where channels and streams overflowed. I worked on Northpark for 20 years. And I have seen it flood routinely between Bens Branch and the Diversion Ditch during rainfalls much smaller than Harvey’s.

Regardless, it’s the best option for improvement because it’s on high ground. That means the flooding issues are fixable at an affordable cost.

Northpark Voted by Residents as the Most Important Project in Kingwood

After Harvey, multiple surveys conducted by the City of Houston and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office ranked improving Northpark as the most important project in the Kingwood Area.

The project includes a bridge that will go over the railroad. Those mile-long trains frequently back up traffic even when things aren’t flooding. If they stalled during a flood when 78,000 people are trying to squeeze through a pinhole, you have an even bigger problem. And we should not forget in that regard that the UP rail bridge also washed out during Harvey.

UP Rail Bridge Wash Out
Union Pacific railroad traffic was disrupted for months. It had to be completely dismantled. A new bridge was erected in its place.

TXDoT Says “Should Have Been Built Years Ago”

TXDoT told Northpark Expansion Project leaders that if a freestanding town of 78,000 people had been cut off by flooding, an evacuation route would have been built years ago. But we’re not freestanding.

Multi-jurisdictional Morass

Unfortunately, we live in a multi-jurisdictional morass. Two counties. The City. Unincorporated areas. MUDs. The TIRZ. Multiple school districts. Thirty-five homeowner associations. KSA. The state. The Federal Government. Redistricting. Multiple elections that create turnover in leadership.

You get the idea. No one entity or person speaks for the entire area. Thank heavens for former Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin who pushed the Northpark Expansion Project relentlessly ever since Harvey.

So come on Entergy. Come on Verison. Come on CenterPoint. Move it. Act like your lives depended on it. Ours do.

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/7/24

2322 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Northpark Tree Moving Starts; Pond Excavation Next

The Northpark Drive expansion project understandably slowed during the holidays. But Northpark tree moving started in earnest this week. Contractors have returned and started moving trees to clear the areas where two detention ponds will be excavated at 59.

In other news:

  • Concrete culvert is being stockpiled to carry stormwater from the ponds to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch via Ditch One behind the businesses on the north side of Northpark.
  • TXDoT has found a hazardous waste site for oil-contaminated dirt discovered during clearing for the north pond. Relocation of the waste should be complete by the end of January, if not sooner.
  • CenterPoint is almost finished moving its gas line that used to run down the center of Northpark. That will allow resumption of culvert placement in the center ditch.
  • Entergy is still delaying parts of the project by refusing to move its electric lines and transformers unless the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority pays them $1.4 million. The amount originally demanded – $711,000 – mysteriously doubled during the holidays.

To learn more about each of these items, see below.

Moving Day Arrives for Trees

Before excavation can begin on the two stormwater detention ponds at US59, numerous trees must be transplanted.

This week, Northpark tree moving began in earnest on the south side of Northpark. Trees are being moved from the center of the entry to the periphery to form a green backdrop that says “Kingwood.” They will frame a decorative pond that doubles as a stormwater detention basin.

The giant machine shown below scoops out dirt and places it to the side. Then it scoops out a tree and drops it into the hole.

To see the complete sequence, view this post from an earlier press conference.
This shot shows the beginnings of the tree backdrop around what will become a pond.

But the job isn’t done yet. More trees remain. Heavy rain earlier this week is still slowing transplantation.

Looking south across Northpark. Wide shot shows where pond will go and trees yet to be transplanted.

Contaminated Soil Being Relocated

Before Thanksgiving, contractors struck oil in the soil on the north side of Northpark at 59. Someone dumped it years or even decades ago. To prevent further leeching into the groundwater, contractors excavated and isolated it with plastic sheeting.

Since then, TXDoT located a suitable permanent site for the contaminated soil and contractor will soon begin moving it.

Looking south toward Northpark over the contaminated soil.

All contaminated soil should be removed by end of January at the latest, according to Ralph De Leon, project manager.

The ponds on both sides of Northpark will keep the US59 intersection from flooding during heavy rains, helping to ensure that the new all-weather evacuation route for 70,000 people remains passable during extreme storms.

More Box Culvert Stockpiled to Reroute Drainage

Excess water from the ponds will be routed east toward the Kingwood Diversion Ditch instead of north along 59 toward Bens Branch – a shorter route.

Why? During heavy rains drainage to Bens Branch where it crosses under 59 can back up all the way to the Northpark intersection. Re-routing it will avoid flooding along the vital 59 corridor AND Northpark without adding to the burden on the Diversion Ditch.

Culvert stockpiled between railroad tracks and Ditch One.
Northpark Drive drainage improvements
Alternate route for stormwater from entry ponds to Kingwood Diversion Ditch and/or Bens Branch.

CenterPoint Gas Line Relocation

As of this afternoon, CenterPoint had reached Russell-Palmer Road with its new gas line. It is moving the line from the median to make room for 6×8 foot concrete box culverts. The culverts will allow the Redevelopment Authority to create two new lanes inside the old lanes, rather than outside, which would be more expensive because of the need for property acquisition.

When the last quarter mile is finished to the diversion ditch, culvert placement in the ditch will resume. It was temporarily halted earlier when contractors discovered serveral conflicts with the gas line; it was higher than expected. That interfered with a consistent gradient for the drainage.

Entergy Conflict Resolution

Before Christmas, the Redevelopment Authority had agreed to pay Entergy $711,000 to move a transformer and some power lines. After Christmas, Entergy doubled the price to $1.4 million. It’s one more setback in a years-long struggle with the corporate giant. More news to follow when and if a resolution becomes clear. (Editorial comment: Entergy does not seem to share 70,000 Kingwood residents’ sense of urgency about the need for an all-weather evacuation route.)

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 1/4/2024

2319 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.

Northpark Expansion Presses Forward While Fighting Entergy Obstacle

In the last two weeks, progress on the Northpark expansion project has slowed somewhat but is still pressing forward. Illegally dumped oil, utility surprises, and a traffic signal have all created bumps in the road, so to speak.

But there’s also good news to report: the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (LHRA) wired a $53,000 payment for a Union-Pacific (UP) easement to the railroad. That clears the way for construction of ground-level turn lanes near where the bridge over the UP tracks will go.

Let’s look at what’s happened in the last two weeks and what’s coming up.

Contaminated Soil Isolated

Two weeks ago while preparing to work on a detention basin on the north side of Northpark at US59, contractors encountered oil dumped years ago. That forced crews to see how far the pollution extended. They excavated a wide area and isolated contaminated dirt.

All contaminated soil was isolated with plastic sheeting before the rains last week.

Contractors are now getting ready to remove the contaminated soil to a safe site for permanent disposal where contaminants can’t leach into groundwater. While that cost time, it will make the site safer in the long run.

Looking west at area where north retention basin will be excavated.

Entergy Estimated It Would Take 50 Weeks to Move a Transformer

In other news, an Entergy consultant in The Woodlands has tried to hold the Northpark expansion project up for two years. He wanted an extra half million dollars (above and beyond the $700,000 already budgeted) to move some power lines and a transformer near the Exxon station at US59.

The consultant demanded 50 weeks to move the ground-mounted transformer alone. His motive was unclear. Was he using a not-so-subtle form of extortion to make himself look better in his client’s eyes?

It’s also unclear whether Entergy, a company that trumpets its social responsibility, knew about the consultant’s demands. Entergy is a Fortune 500 company with 3 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

The Northpark Expansion project is designed to create an all-weather evacuation route for 70,000 people. One would think that a socially minded company with a $4.4 billion rate base (in Texas alone) could move a transformer in less than a year if it really wanted to.

Ralph De Leon, project manager for the Northpark expansion project, finally managed to bypass the consultant and is now working directly with Entergy executives in Beaumont.

Lawyers for LHRA have negotiated a settlement in lieu of condemnation. Hopefully the Entergy issue will resolve amicably before the end of the year. The agreement will be on the December 14, LHRA board meeting agenda.

Traffic Light Alternative

At Russell-Palmer, contractors are still waiting for the City of Houston to change a pole mounted traffic signal to a wire-mounted one. That will enable them to continue installing box culverts when Centerpoint returns to finish moving its gas line. Centerpoint crews were MIA during the holidays.

Traffic signal in median at Northpark and Russell Palmer Road must be replaced with wire-mounted system for now.

Replacement of Ditch with Box Culverts

The City of Houston has approved the plan to detour a waterline across Northpark to the Parkwood Baptist Church (see upper right corner of photo above). The original contractors didn’t install the waterline deep enough. That created a conflict with the 6’x8′ box culverts being installed in the median. But the water-line detour should be resolved soon.

The culverts will replace the ditch in the median so that the road can be expanded inward, adding an extra lane of traffic in each direction.

Looking west in opposite direction from over Russell Palmer.

Plan for Next Three Weeks

Construction is always difficult, even in the best of times. The holidays make it even more so. Weather permitting, here are the priorities for the next three weeks.

  • Continue burying reinforced culvert at Outfall B depending on weather 
  • Alternatively, continue working on 8″ waterline on south side of Northpark between railroad tracks and King’s Mill
  • Install 12″ waterline in front of the Chick-Fil-A.
  • Complete filling in around new sidewalks west of US59
  • Mobilize on December 4th to begin tree relocation throughout the month of December.
  • Continued Retention Pond Excavation on north side at US59.

For More Information

For more information about the project including construction plans, visit the project pages of the LHRA/Tirz 10 website. Or see these posts on ReduceFlooding:

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/3/23

2287 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.