Tag Archive for: progress

Army Corps Updates West Fork Dredging Progress

The US Army Corps of Engineers has just released a graphic that updates the Lake Houston Community on West Fork dredging progress. With a little more than two months to go before the scheduled completion of the project, about two thirds of the work has been completed. That’s a visual estimate, not one based on volume of sand removed.

The clock started ticking on this project on July 15, 2018. The contract called for completion in 270 days or about mid-April. However, contractors encountered three back-to-back-to-back floods in December and January that set them back. The Corps’ last scheduled completion date was at the end of April.

The dredging progress may be slightly behind schedule, even given the addition of the “weather days.” However, contractors hope to make up the time as weather improves.

Work to date shown in solid colors. Unfinished work shown as empty boxes. Expected completion date is end of April.

To download a high-resolution version of this progress map, click here.

Artwork courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/21/2019

541 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Progress to Date on West Fork Dredging

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.

Graphic courtesy of the US Army Corps of Engineers. For a larger, high-res version, click here.

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.

New Congressman Dan Crenshaw (center) with Matt Zeve of Harris County Flood Control (r) and Ian Hudson (l).

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

Dawn of a New Day for the Lake Houston Area

This morning, Dr. Charles Campbell, shared a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring photograph with me. He took it right here in Kingwood. It symbolizes all the hope and promise of a new day, maybe even a new year. Dr. Campbell jogs every morning at sunrise in East End Park where he took this shot.

Sunrise over Lake Houston from Kingwood’s East End Park at Otter Point. Photo courtesy of Dr. Charles Campbell. 

Reconstruction to Date

As I lost myself in this photo, I reflected on the progress our dynamic community has made this year.

  • Most people have rebuilt from Hurricane Harvey or are at least close to completion.
  • Most businesses have returned.
  • Kingwood College should completely re-open in January with $60 million of renovations and new construction.
  • Kingwood High School also received an estimated $60 million makeover and update.
  • Memorial Hermann opened a new 45,000 square foot Convenient Care Center in the heart of Town Center.

Flood Mitigation Progress

And to help prevent a repeat of Harvey:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers has started a $67 million dredging project which it hopes to complete by next April.
  • City, County, State and Federal leaders have rallied to urge FEMA and the Corps to extend the project past the mouth of the river. Both of these projects should help move water through the river faster.
  • Mayor Turner has promised to add 10 new flood gates to the Lake Houston dam. This will help shed water to Galveston Bay faster in future storms.
  • Harris County voters approved a historic $2.5 billion Flood Bond. It includes money that will help build the gates  and dredge the river on an ongoing basis.
  • The bond package also includes money to help build additional upstream detention. That will hold water upstream in future flood events.
  •  The SJRA adopted a policy of seasonally lowering Lake Conroe during the peak of spring rains and the Hurricane Season. They will hopefully continue this until other mitigation measures are in place. This helps give us an additional buffer against giant storms.
  • The City of Houston adopted a policy of lowering Lake Houston, also in anticipation of major storms. Again, this gives the lake extra capacity to absorb more runoff before the river is forced out of its banks. This also is a temporary measure until other mitigation measures are completed.
  • Government buyouts of repeatedly flood-ravaged homes have already commenced.
  • The county is also buying out properties below the Lake Houston dam in anticipation of higher flow rates once additional gates are installed.
  • Harris County has purchased floodway property and will convert it to new parks. Construction on Edgewater Park will begin next year and create a second boat launch for area residents.
  • The City passed a new ordinance requiring homes to be built 2 feet above the 500-year flood plain.
  • TexDoT completely reconstructed and strengthened the I-69 southbound lanes.
  • The County and the Corps are starting to open up ditches like the one at River Grove that drains the western third of Kingwood.

Dredging has reached the side bar and up into the drainage ditch at River Grove past the boat dock. Photo Courtesy of Dave Seitzinger.

New Day for the Community That Refused to Quit

Clearly, we have a lot to be thankful for this Christmas. But as I look back, the thing I am most thankful for is that the people of this community chose not to ignore flood issues. We addressed them head on. As a result, our our homes, health and future will be much safer.

When I moved to Texas almost 40 years ago, I fell in love with the can-do attitude of Texans.

Tell a Texan something can’t be done and he’ll show you how.

Tell a Texan it’s hopeless and she’ll tell you to get out of her way.

And among Texans, few embody this spirit more than Houstonians, especially those in the Lake Houston area.

Posted by Bob Rehak on December 5, 2018

463 days since Hurricane Harvey