Tag Archive for: Kingwood Drive

Next Challenge For City: Ditch Clean Out in Right of Way Under Kingwood Drive West of High School

About a half block west of Kingwood High School, G-103-36-03, a small drainage ditch without a name, cuts under Kingwood Drive. More than a hundred homes near this ditch flooded during Harvey. Before Imelda, Harris County Flood Control District did an emergency “de-snag” on the ditch. That means they cleaned out fallen trees that were forming “beaver dams” and backing water up.

But the right of way under Kingwood Drive has remained about half blocked by sediment. That’s what those red warning signs represent in the picture below. Clearing the right of way is the City of Houston’s responsibility.

Now, would be a good time to clean out this ditch while the City has crews working a block east of here at Kingwood High School.

Location of Blockage

Screen capture from HCFCD’s Kingwood Area Drainage Assessment. The purple in the upper right is Kingwood High School.

When I clicked on the upper warning sign, I found a link to this image from 2019.

Sediment and vegetation half blocking twin culverts under Kingwood Drive in 2019. Photo by HCFCD looking south from north of westbound lanes.

Pictures Taken Today Show Same Blockages

Here’s how the same scene looked on 3/8/22. The ditch stops before it even reaches the culvert.
Closer shot of same culverts shows sediment and vegetation blocking culvert entrances.
Still looking south, but across the median toward the eastbound lanes.
Looking north from eastbound lanes at sediment and vegetation blocking the ditch as it goes through the median of Kingwood Drive.

I’ve brought this issue to the attention of Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin and his staff. I’m confident this was just an oversight and look forward to doing another positive story when they complete this job, too.

Posted by Bob Rehak on March 8, 2022

1652 Days since Hurricane Harvey

CoH Excavating Silt from Diversion Ditch at Kingwood Drive

After finishing excavating silt from under the Kingwood Drive Bridge over Ben’s Branch, City crews are now doing the same under the bridge over the Diversion Ditch near the fire station on Kingwood Drive.

Before excavation began. Looking south at the Kingwood Drive Bridge over the Diversion Ditch in August.

Bridges are often chokepoints during floods because of their supports that reduce and sometimes slow the flow of water and contribute to sediment buildup.

Closer shot of same bridge, still looking south. Note sediment buildup. Also note how bridge supports catch debris.

The City of Houston is responsible for excavation under the bridges because the bridges are City property.

On Ben’s Branch, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) had excavated both north and south of the bridge at Kingwood Drive. Then the City did its part.

Pictures of Work in Progress At Kingwood Drive.

However, at the Diversion Ditch Bridge, HCFCD has not yet begun excavation. CoH went first.

Dan Monks, a Kingwood resident, captured work in progress last week and gave ReduceFlooding.com permission to use his photos.

Photo By Dan Monks shows excavation in progress under east side of Kingwood Drive Bridge over Diversion Ditch.
The City is stacking the dirt on the bank, letting it drain and then hauling it off. Another shot courtesy of Dan Monks.
There’s still more work to do on the western side, but that should happen soon. Photo courtesy of Dan Monks.

The Second of Many Such Projects

According to Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin’s office, the City’s Public Works Department will also be investigating other bridges in the Kingwood area to see if they too need to have silt removed from under them. These projects aren’t glamorous, but they are necessary to restore conveyance of area ditches. HCFCD’s Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis showed that some area ditches were down to a 2-year level of service. That means they were so constricted that they would flood in a two-year rain.

Bridges along Kingwood Drive and Northpark Drive can least afford flooding. They are vital links in crucial evacuation routes.

Thanks to the folks in the District E Council Office and the Public Works Department for addressing these issues.

It’s not yet clear when HCFCD plans to start excavation of the Diversion Ditch in this area.

If you have photos you would like to share with the public, please submit them through the Submissions Page of this website.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/10/21

1503 Days since Hurricane Harvey

City Starting to Excavate Bottlenecks Under Kingwood Drive

For more than a year, HCFCD has excavated Ben’s Branch in four different phases. However, significant sediment remained under the Kingwood Drive Bridge. That’s property owned and maintained by the City of Houston. And now they are excavating that to eliminate a bottleneck. Such bottlenecks can back water up, damaging homes and businesses.

Photographs by Stan Sarman on 8/24/2021. Taken along Ben’s Branch looking north toward Kingwood Drive.
The excavation also affected the area between the two halves of Kingwood Drive.
Sediment will drain and dry before being removed from the banks.

According to Sarman, who talked with the construction manager, after the crew completes work here, it will remove sediment from the bottleneck at the Kingwood Diversion Ditch next to the fire station on Kingwood Drive.

These are little things that make a big difference to people who previously flooded. And there were plenty of them along Ben’s Branch, especially in the Town Center Area. Some businesses still haven’t recovered. The shopping center north of these photos is still largely vacant thanks to catastrophic flooding during Harvey and a ditch whose conveyance was severely reduced, in part, by bottlenecks like this one.

Thanks go to Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin and his staff at the District E council office.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 8/24/2021 with photos from Stan Sarman

1456 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Mobilization Begins for Next Phase of Ben’s Branch Restoration

Last week, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) began mobilizing for the restoration of the Ben’s Branch drainage ditch between Kingwood Drive and Rocky Woods. The work will involve removing accumulated sediment that has diminished the conveyance capacity of the ditch.

Engineers measure conveyance in terms of “level of service.” A 100-year level of service means that a ditch will convey a 100-year rain without overflowing. The Kingwood Drainage Analysis performed last year by HCFCD revealed that sediment had reduced the conveyance of Ben’s Branch to a 2-year level of service in places. This project will restore the ditch to its original contours.

Looking north toward Rocky Woods. Most of the land between the two roads on either side of the ditch will be removed. Photo taken January 31, 2021.
Looking WSW toward intersection of Kingwood Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway. Trucks will exit Ben’s Branch by the cell tower behind the old H-E-B. Note the orange walls of the new H-E-B in the upper left. Also note the new CVS still under construction in the upper right (yellow walls). Photo taken Jan. 3, 2021.
How trucks will exist the project. Looking northwest across two temporary bridges where the two parts of Ben’s Branch come together. Work will focus on the main part on the left. Photo taken Jan. 31, 2021.
Temporary crossing for trucks coming down the west side of Ben’s Branch toward the exit on the east side by by old H-E-B. Photo taken January 31, 2021.

Importance of Project

Along Ben’s Branch, as a result of flooding during Harvey:

  • Kingwood High School immediately to the west of this project flooded badly. The building suffered $67 million in damages. The school lost another $10 million in contents. Four thousand students had to be bused to another school for seven months.
  • Homes along both sides of the ditch flooded.
  • All four shopping centers in Kingwood’s Town Center flooded. Many businesses still have not returned.
  • Thirteen people died, included twelve seniors at Kingwood Village Estates. Six died from injuries sustained during evacuation and six from stress-related illnesses after returning and finding their homes destroyed.
Looking south from northern end of project. Kingwood High School in upper right.

History of Previous Ben’s Branch Projects since Harvey

Previously, HCFCD cleaned out the portion of Ben’s Branch from the YMCA on West Lake Houston Parkway north to Kingwood Drive. This is an extension of that project. HCFCD also cleaned out the portion from Northpark Drive to Kids in Action on Woodland Hills Drive. Flood Control could not obtain permission to excavate anything in the natural portion of Ben’s Branch between St. Martha’s Catholic School and Rocky Woods. However, HCFCD did clean out underbrush to let water flow faster through that area.

Scope of Current Work

For the current work between Kingwood Drive and Rocky Woods, HCFCD will start at the downstream end and work its way north. The work should take about five months. It involves removing more than 22,000 cubic yards of sediment, restoring the original banks of the ditch, and replacing a number of outfall pipes that have become blocked or damaged over time.

Once the work begins in earnest, HCFCD contractors will enter the northern side of the project at the end of Cedar Knolls and move south toward Kingwood Drive. There, they will exit the project behind the old H-E-B store. Crews will work around Kingwood High School start/stop times to reduce traffic snarls.

HCFCD considers this a maintenance project, not a capital-improvement project.

Related Projects in Kingwood

The Kingwood Drainage Analysis identified two much-needed capital improvement projects in Kingwood:

  • Expansion of the Diversion Ditch that runs from the new St. Martha Church down to Deer Ridge and River Grove Parks where it eventually enters the West Fork. The purpose of the Diversion Ditch project: to further reduce the flow of water into Ben’s Branch.
  • A project to reduce flooding along Taylor Gully. Two options have been discussed:
    • Widening and deepening Taylor Gully itself
    • Establishing a regional detention pond on the land owned by Perry Homes’ subsidiary Figure Four Partners.

HCFCD has not announced a timetable yet for either of those projects. Any work on Taylor Gully would depend on whether Harris County and the City are able to negotiate the purchase of Woodridge Village from Perry. Woodridge Village is the aborted development that twice flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest Villages in 2019.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/3/2021

1253 Days since Hurricane Harvey

City Quietly Cleaning Out Culverts Under Kingwood Drive Thanks to Local Activist

Chris Bloch, an engineer and Kingwood resident, has become a flood-control activist in his retirement. I often run into Chris inspecting ditches, streams and culverts for blockages and collapsed outfalls. Chris also works with the Bear Branch Trail Association which owns property along many of the channels and streams cutting through Kings Forest, Bear Branch, and Hunters Ridge.

Activist Extraordinaire

For the last several months, Chris has focused intensely on blocked channels that contributed to the flooding of 110 homes in Kings Forest during Harvey. Where the channels cross under Kingwood Drive, three had become almost totally blocked by vegetation and silt. That contributed to backing water up into homes. See below.

Ditch at Shady Run and Kingwood Drive before clean-out. Photo courtesy of Chris Bloch.

Chris meticulously photographed the problems, began researching which entities were responsible for which portions of the channels, and in the case above, contacted the City of Houston. The City has responsibility for the medians and sides of Kingwood Drive and other streets. His persistence paid off.

In October, the City began cleaning out the ditch near Shady Run and Kingwood Drive.

Vacuum truck photographed at same location on 10/3/2020

Here’s what that part of the channel looks like today.

Same ditch after clean-out. Photo courtesy of Chris Bloch.

End-to-End Inspections

Chris is tenacious, tireless, and wide ranging. He looks at ditches from end to end. In this case, he’s also trying to get the Flood Control District to escalate clean-out of the ditch south of Kingwood Drive. Reduced conveyance through that reach could also have contributed to flooding in Kingwood Lakes.

Bloch says he has also identified twenty storm-drain outfalls that need repair. “It doesn’t make any difference if the storm sewers are clear if the water in them can’t get to ditches and streams,” he says.

You Be an Activist, Too

Activists like Chris make Kingwood the great place it is. They help identify local problems for government and make the case for addressing them.

As you hike through our greenbelts and along channels, keep your eyes open for developing problems:

  • Collapsed outfalls into ditches
  • Eroded banks
  • Vegetation and silt blocking culverts
  • Developing sinkholes
  • Fallen trees damming streams

Be an activist like Chris. Take pictures and report them to the appropriate authorities. That will usually be the City or Flood Control.

You, too, can make a difference.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/15/2020

1174 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Kingwood Drive and Loop 494 Intersection Closed This Weekend

City of Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin announced this afternoon that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will close the intersection of Kingwood Drive and Texas Loop 494 this weekend. The closure starts Friday evening, April 17 and, weather permitting, will last through early Monday morning, April 20.

Purpose of Closure

This is a bit off topic for a flood blog, but Kingwood Drive affects half my readers and 494 affects many more. Here’s what’s happening.

TxDOT will raise the intersection of Kingwood Drive and 494 with two feet of asphalt. The purpose: to remove the dip by the UP railroad tracks.

Weather permitting, construction should start at 9:00 p.m. on Friday. Crews will work continuously until 5:00 a.m. Monday.

Please watch for flagmen and orange traffic cones indicating detours. Detours at Crescent Springs, Butterfly Lane, Royal Forest and Northpark Drive are shown below.

For more information, contact TxDOT at (936) 538-3300.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/15/2020

960 Days since Hurricane Harvey