Tag Archive for: Taylor Gully

Harris County Changes Proposed Project Lists for HUD Funding

In a transmittal to Harris County Commissioners Court today, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) updated commissioners on how it hopes to spend $863 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds.

Two projects in the Kingwood Area remain funding priorities: Taylor Gully Channel Improvements and Woodridge Village Stormwater Detention. However, the stormwater detention, currently listed as an alternate backup project, is being split up into two smaller projects to help improve funding chances for the most critical component. See more details below.

Ins and Outs of Funding

The HUD money comes in two “buckets” with different requirements – Disaster Relief ($322 million) and Mitigation ($541 million). Both buckets fall under HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG). CDBG’s flexibility lets people and communities design and implement strategies tailored to their own needs and priorities.

When I last reported on the CDBG lists, the Lake Houston Area had one project in each bucket.

  • In Disaster Relief, the Woodridge Village Stormwater Detention Basin was “below the line.” That means it was an alternate on the backup list; a primary project would have had to have been canceled for it to receive funding.
  • In Mitigation, Taylor Gully Improvements were above the line, i.e., primary recommendations.
Extent of Woodridge excavation when paused before applying to HUD

Changes Outlined in Transmittal

The latest updated project lists feature five main changes. They affect both Lake Houston Area projects. But first, let me explain the others that are changing, because their financial impact affects everything else.

HCFCD:

  • Deleted the Riggs Road Stormwater Detention Basin (Part 2) from the recommended DR list, saving $6.5 million.
  • Transferred the Boudreaux Basin (Phase 1) from the DR list to Mitigation, so that it could benefit from the longer timeline for Mitigation projects. This project is between Willow Creek and SH99 at Huffsmith Kohrville Road. The transfer will free up another $38.6 million on the DR list.
  • Moved an East TC Jester Stormwater Detention Basin from the mitigation list to the DR list. This put $23.8 million back on the DR list.
  • Removed the Mercer Stormwater Detention Basin from the mitigation list without transferring it to DR.

Thus, you would think approximately $21.3 million was freed up on the DR list. That would theoretically let the Woodridge Stormwater Detention Basin move up from “below the funding line.” However, it remains below…at least for now.

Moreover the Woodridge Stormwater Detention Basin has morphed into two projects. One provides the detention required to help mitigate Taylor Gully now. The other provides an extra safety margin as a hedge against future developments.

Splitting the detention up into two smaller pieces gives HCFCD more flexibility and greater confidence that the most important part will get funded.

The Woodridge/Taylor Gully discussion in the document is a bit confusing unless you speak HUD.

Amy Crouser, an HCFCD spokesperson provided this translation. Regarding the two DR detention projects, she said that the detention basin which HCFCD already began excavating (and which they paused in November 2023) remains the top priority.

“The second basin will provide additional regional stormwater detention. Splitting the project helps us ensure the compartment of the Woodridge basin that mitigates Taylor Gully can move forward,” said Crouser.

She concluded, “The ultimate goal is to eventually construct both compartments. This follows our traditional rationale for phasing projects when possible and practicable. Both compartments will be advanced to bid-ready state using local dollars. That will give us the maximum flexibility to advance the projects.” 

For More Information

This HCFCD document titled CDBG Program Financial Planning & Performance Management, lays out all the costs, restrictions, deadlines and accountabilities related to all the projects on each list.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/23/24

2429 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Crenshaw Secures Funding for 10 Lake Houston Area Projects

Congressman Dan Crenshaw has helped secure Federal funding that supports 10 Lake Houston Area projects. Crenshaw submitted requests for the earmarks in 2023. After review by several different congressional committees, some of the earmark requests were modified and some sailed through for the full amounts.

The table below shows requested and approved amounts.

ProjectOriginally RequestedFinally Approved
Walnut Lane Bridge over Kingwood Diversion Ditch$4 million$4 million
New Caney Active Shooter Defense Training Facility$2.3 million$1.65 million
San Jac River Wastewater System$1.8$1.83 million
Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements$8 million$1.75 million
Taylor Gulley Channel Conveyance Improvements$8 million$1.75 million
Ford Road Improvements$12 million$7 million
MoCo Bridge Project$900 thousand$720 thousand
Tamina Economic Development Project$3 million$3 million
FM1488 Street Rehab and Drainage Improvements$1.12$1.12 million
Highlands, Huffman, Crosby Roadway/Drainage Improvements$3.6 million$3.6 million
           Total$44.72 million$26.42 million

Crenshaw Success Rate

According to sources familiar with the process, Crenshaw is one of the few if not the only representatives to secure funding for all projects he has submitted in the last three years.

Reportedly, this is because Crenshaw restricts his requests to projects that save lives and/or money in the long term. Said another way, the requests he submits justify the expenditures. They are usually for infrastructure and save the government money by preventing future flood damage.

Dan Crenshaw (center) reviewing flood damage along Harris/MoCo line.
Crenshaw in black shirt visiting with Elm Grove flood victims in 2019 near Taylor Gully.

For descriptions of all 10 earmarks requested by Crenshaw, see below.

Project Descriptions

Kingwood Diversion Channel – Walnut Lane Bridge Project

Recipient: City of Houston

Purpose: The project includes the widening and reconstruction of Walnut Lane Bridge in Kingwood. This bridge, in its current configuration, will restrict flood flows unless widened to accommodate the future expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Channel currently being designed by the Harris County Flood Control District. The purpose of the overall project is to route drainage from Montgomery County to Lake Houston and reduce flood damage to residents of Kingwood along Bens Branch. The funding is needed to construct improvements needed to facilitate the expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and rebuild the Walnut Lane Bridge.

Active Shooter Defense Training Facility

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Purpose: Purpose: To assist with the operations of our regional active shooter rapid response training facility by purchasing training supplies/aids, equiping graduates with medical response supplies, and ballistic equipment for actual threats. To date, graduates include 1,600 law enforcement personnel, fire and EMS first responders. 

San Jacinto River Wastewater System Replacement Project

Recipient: Army Corps of Engineers

Purpose: To increase the reliability of the San Jacinto River Authority Woodlands Division wastewater conveyance system and repair damage from recent storms. List stations were damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey and have yet to be repaired. Both on-site lift stations, the control building, and the emergency generator were flooded and need to be replaced. This request would fund the demolition of the existing structure and build new systems. 

Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements and Stormwater Detention Project

Recipient: Harris County Flood Control District

Purpose:  This project is designed to reduce flood risk within the Goose Creek Watershed by creating a detention basin and improving stormwater conveyance. The project is estimated to remove approximately 28 acres of inundated land, up to 77 structures, and 1.44 miles of inundated roadways from the 100-year event. Preventing flooding will avoid the need for more costly recovery efforts after flooding events.

Taylor Gully Flood Mitigation Project

Recipient: Harris County Flood Control District

Purpose: To reduce flood risk in the Kingwood area.  This area experienced widespread flooding from recent storm events, including Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda.  This project will create a detention basin and improve stormwater conveyance to minimize flood risks. Engineering studies show that completion of this project will result in substantial reductions in flooding along Taylor Gully.  The studies show that this project will remove the 100-year floodplain from more than 276 structures and 115 acres of flood area.

Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements and Stormwater Detention Project

Recipient: Harris County Flood Control District

Purpose:  This project is designed to reduce flood risk within the Goose Creek Watershed by creating a detention basin and improving stormwater conveyance. The project is estimated to remove approximately 28 acres of inundated land, up to 77 structures, and 1.44 miles of inundated roadways from the 100-year event. Preventing flooding will avoid the need for more costly recovery efforts after flooding events.

Ford Road Improvement Project 

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Purpose: Support Ford Road improvements from US 59 in Montgomery County to the Harris County line. The current road is undersized and serves as one of only three evacuation routes for the Kingwood area. All three routes have drainage issues and Ford Road is only a two-lane road. The proposed project would make Ford Road a four-lane road, improve local drainage, and improve driver and pedestrian safety in the corridor.

Montgomery County Bridge Project 

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Purpose: Provide funding for five rural wooden bridges in Montgomery County that are past their design life and need to be replaced. The bridges were not built to current criteria and increase the risk of flooding by backing up water during large storms. One bridge serves as the only way in and out of a subdivision presenting a safety hazard. The funding request is for engineering, surveying, and permitting services to develop construction plans to replace five bridges.

Tamina Economic Development Planning Project

Recipient: Montgomery County

Purpose: The Tamina area is not served by modern street and stormwater management systems. The streets are in disrepair and the area drains very poorly, creating an elevated risk of flooding. The first phase of economic development planning, which this request would support, is to complete detailed engineering and environmental studies, provide new driveways and culverts, and re-grade all of the ditches to allow them to drain. 

FM1488 Area Street Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Project 

Recipient: City of Conroe

Purpose: The project will fund roadway resurfacing, drainage improvements, and storm sewer upgrades of roadways connecting to FM1488 near IH-45 (southern part of Conroe). The City of Conroe has experienced severe weather and rainfall which causes considerable wear and tear on the roads and drainage network. The project will benefit residential areas, including the Arella Forrest at Woodland Senior Living Center and Stillwater neighborhood. It will also improve access to the WG Jones State Forest, which serves a community located in a Historically Disadvantaged Community Tract. 

Highland / Huffman / Crosby Roadway & Drainage Improvement 

Recipient: Harris County, Texas

Purpose: Reconstruction of multiple poorly paved roads in subdivisions throughout the Highlands, Crosby, and Huffman areas of northeast Harris County. Existing gravel roads and inadequate drainage will be replaced with asphalt pavement, driveway culverts, and roadside ditches that will greatly improve residents’ quality of life. The projects will also improve accessibility for law enforcement and emergency services, reduce flood risk, and bring the local infrastructure to a standard acceptable for long-term County maintenance. 

Reason for Some Cutbacks

Earmarks come out of a specific percentage of each committee’s overall budget. The more requests that representatives submit, the less money there is to go around. And congressmen have no control over what others submit.

Overall, Congressman Crenshaw did very well. Many of these projects would not be going forward without his assistance.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/4/24

2410 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Woodridge Village Excavation and Removal Contract Ends

(Note: Within an hour of posting this, I received additional information from a source familiar with Federal grants and have updated the section on Funding below.) Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and Sprint Sand & Clay have ended their Woodridge Village excavation and removal (E&R) contract. As of Friday afternoon, 11/24/23, Sprint had removed all of its equipment from the worksite, including the construction trailer at the entrance. See photos below.

Empty entrance on Woodland Hills where construction trailer once stood.
Looking NE at extent of excavation for new detention basin.
Same basin, but looking in opposite direction toward SW.

This will pause construction of additional stormwater detention capacity on Woodridge Village property.

Why did the contract end?

Funding Played Role in E&R Contract Termination

The new stormwater detention basin on HCFCD’s Woodridge Village property was part of a much larger project involving improvements to Taylor Gully. The combined Taylor Gully/Woodridge Village project involved funding from multiple sources:

  • U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw secured federal funding for Taylor Gully improvements in March 2022.
  • The Texas Water Development Board approved additional state funding in May.
  • Last summer, HCFCD also recommended the Taylor Gully/Woodridge project(s) for GLO/U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) CDBG-MIT funding.

The last comes with a firm, tight deadline for spending the money – Jan. 12, 2027 – three years away. It also comes with other “process” restrictions dictated by the CDBG-MIT funding.

Harris County requested a deadline extension. But because of the holiday, it is not clear whether HUD granted it.

Also, since originally posting this, an expert in Federal grants wrote to say, “The excavation and removal at Woodridge had to stop because Federal funds require a process to be followed. The excavation project that will be funded by CDBG mitigation funds has to follow NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act). It does not allow any activity until NEPA has been cleared. Once the site was officially approved for CDBG mitigation funds, everything had to stop. The agreement with GLO was executed a week or two ago.”

“A similar thing happened to the Sprint excavation and removal at the Dinner Creek Basin,” he added. “It’s one of those sad facts about federal grants. You have to follow their process and everything is done in a linear fashion.”

Flexible E&R Contracts Allow Early Termination

HCFCD’s excavation and removal contracts are very flexible. They let HCFCD get a head start on construction as it worked out financing, design and other project details.

The terms of Sprint’s E&R contract let Sprint excavate up to 500,000 cubic yards of material and sell the dirt on the private market to make a profit. Sprint was meeting its 5,000 cubic-yard/month minimum. They averaged 6,000 to 7,000 cubic yards per month during the last two years.

By the end of October, the company excavated 156,478 cubic yards – about a third of the maximum. However, the additional two-thirds at the current rate would have missed the HUD deadline by at least two years.

If there’s good news here, it’s that:

  • The amount excavated to date already puts the site very close to meeting Atlas-14 requirements. The “head start” worked.
  • Once construction resumes, it could sharply accelerate.

Final HCFCD Recommendations Not Yet Revealed

In December 2022, engineers presented their preliminary plans to the Kingwood community and sought public input on four alternatives. Their recommended alternative included:

  • Expanding a portion of Taylor Gully and lining it with concrete.
  • Building yet another 412 acre-foot stormwater detention basin on Woodridge Village.
  • Replacing the culverts at Rustling Elms with a clear-span bridge.

HCFCD has not yet revealed final construction plans to the community. But it appears that the pot is starting to boil. Stay tuned. More news will follow soon.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 11/26/23

2280 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Nine Crenshaw Flood-Related Earmark Requests Approved by Various House Committees

U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw made nine flood-related earmark requests for 2024. And according to his office, several House of Representative Committees have approved all nine. They include:

  • $1.75M – Taylor Gully Flood Mitigation Project
  • $1.75M – Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements
  • $3.6M – Highlands, Huffman & Crosby Roadway Reconstruction and Drainage Improvements project
  • $1.83 – San Jacinto River Wastewater System Replacement
  • $4M – Kingwood Diversion Channel/Walnut Lane Bridge
  • $1.12M – FM1488 Area Street Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Project 
  • $3M – Tamina Economic Development Planning Project
  • $7M – Ford Road Improvement Projects
  • $700,000 Montgomery County Bridge Project 

A committee also approved a request by Crenshaw NOT related to flooding – $1.65M for the Montgomery County Active Shooter Defense Training Facility. That means all 10 of Representative Crenshaw’s 2024 requests received funding, although not all received the full amount requested.

Project Descriptions

For descriptions of all 10 earmarks requested by Crenshaw, see below.

1. Taylor Gully Flood Mitigation Project

Recipient: Harris County Flood Control District

Requested: $8 million 

Committee Approved: $1.75 million. See Interior List.

Purpose: To reduce flood risk in the Kingwood area.  This area experienced widespread flooding from recent storm events, including Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda.  This project will create a detention basin and improve stormwater conveyance to minimize flood risks. Engineering studies show that completion of this project will result in substantial reductions in flooding along Taylor Gully.  The studies show that this project will remove the 100-year floodplain from more than 276 structures and 115 acres of flood area.

2. Goose Creek Channel Conveyance Improvements and Stormwater Detention Project

Recipient: Harris County Flood Control District

Requested: $8 million

Committee Approved: $1.75 million. See Interior List.

Purpose:  This project is designed to reduce flood risk within the Goose Creek Watershed by creating a detention basin and improving stormwater conveyance. The project is estimated to remove approximately 28 acres of inundated land, up to 77 structures, and 1.44 miles of inundated roadways from the 100-year event. Preventing flooding will avoid the need for more costly recovery efforts after flooding events.

3. Highland / Huffman / Crosby Roadway & Drainage Improvement 

Recipient: Harris County, Texas

Requested: $3.6 million 

Committee approved $3.6 million. See Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development List.

Purpose: Reconstruction of multiple poorly paved roads in subdivisions throughout the Highlands, Crosby, and Huffman areas of northeast Harris County. Existing gravel roads and inadequate drainage will be replaced with asphalt pavement, driveway culverts, and roadside ditches that will greatly improve residents’ quality of life. The projects will also improve accessibility for law enforcement and emergency services, reduce flood risk, and bring the local infrastructure to a standard acceptable for long-term County maintenance. 

4. San Jacinto River Wastewater System Replacement Project

Recipient: Army Corps of Engineers

Requested: $1.8 million

Committee Approved: $1.83 million. See Energy and Water List.

Purpose: To increase the reliability of the San Jacinto River Authority Woodlands Division wastewater conveyance system and repair damage from recent storms. List stations were damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey and have yet to be repaired. Both on-site lift stations, the control building, and the emergency generator were flooded and need to be replaced. This request would fund the demolition of the existing structure and build new systems. 

5. Kingwood Diversion Channel – Walnut Lane Bridge Project

Recipient: City of Houston

Requested: $4 million 

Committee Approved: $4 million. See Homeland Security List.

Purpose: The project includes the widening and reconstruction of Walnut Lane Bridge in Kingwood. This bridge, in its current configuration, will restrict flood flows unless widened to accommodate the future expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Channel currently being designed by the Harris County Flood Control District. The purpose of the overall project is to route drainage from Montgomery County to Lake Houston and reduce flood damage to residents of Kingwood along Bens Branch. The funding is needed to construct improvements needed to facilitate the expansion of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and rebuild the Walnut Lane Bridge.

6. FM1488 Area Street Rehabilitation and Drainage Improvement Project 

Recipient: City of Conroe

Requested: $1.12 million

Committee Approved: $1.12 million. See Transportation, and Housing and Urban Develop List.

Purpose: The project will fund roadway resurfacing, drainage improvements, and storm sewer upgrades of roadways connecting to FM1488 near IH-45 (southern part of Conroe). The City of Conroe has experienced severe weather and rainfall which causes considerable wear and tear on the roads and drainage network. The project will benefit residential areas, including the Arella Forrest at Woodland Senior Living Center and Stillwater neighborhood. It will also improve access to the WG Jones State Forest, which serves a community located in a Historically Disadvantaged Community Tract. 

7. Tamina Economic Development Planning Project

Recipient: Montgomery County

Requested: $3 million 

Committee Approved: $3 million. See Transportation and Housing and Urban Development List.

Purpose: The Tamina area is not served by modern street and stormwater management systems. The streets are in disrepair and the area drains very poorly, creating an elevated risk of flooding. The first phase of economic development planning, which this request would support, is to complete detailed engineering and environmental studies, provide new driveways and culverts, and re-grade all of the ditches to allow them to drain. 

8. Ford Road Improvement Project 

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Requested: $12 million 

Committee Approved: $7 million. See Transportation List.

Purpose: Support Ford Road improvements from US 59 in Montgomery County to the Harris County line. The current road is undersized and serves as one of only three evacuation routes for the Kingwood area. All three routes have drainage issues and Ford Road is only a two-lane road. The proposed project would make Ford Road a four-lane road, improve local drainage, and improve driver and pedestrian safety in the corridor.

9. Montgomery County Bridge Project 

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Requested: $900,000

Committee Approved: $700,000. See Transportation List.

Purpose: Provide funding for five rural wooden bridges in Montgomery County that are past their design life and need to be replaced. The bridges were not built to current criteria and increase the risk of flooding by backing up water during large storms. One bridge serves as the only way in and out of a subdivision presenting a safety hazard. The funding request is for engineering, surveying, and permitting services to develop construction plans to replace five bridges.

10. Active Shooter Defense Training Facility

Recipient: Montgomery County 

Requested: $2.3 million 

Committee Approved: $1.65 million. See Commerce, Justice, Science List.

Purpose: Purpose: To assist with the operations of our regional active shooter rapid response training facility by purchasing training supplies/aids, equiping graduates with medical response supplies, and ballistic equipment for actual threats. To date, graduates include 1,600 law enforcement personnel, fire and EMS first responders. 

Next Steps

Being approved by a committee doesn’t mean the Crenshaw earmarks are “done deals” yet. The full House of Representatives and Senate must still approve them. And then the President must sign the Appropriations bill into law. So, things could change between now and the end of the year. Final amounts could vary. More news to follow on the Crenshaw earmarks.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/24/23

2155 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Public Comment Period on Taylor Gully-Woodridge Village Plan Open to December 28

Last night, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) revealed its long-awaited recommendations to reduce flood risk along Taylor Gully. The recommendations involve channel improvements, another Woodridge Village stormwater detention basin, and a new bridge at Rustling Elms.

HCFCD is seeking public comment on the plan through December 28, 2022.

Outline of Recommended Alternative

Excessive runoff from Woodridge flooded hundreds of homes in Elm Grove, North Kingwood Forest, and Mills Branch twice in 2019 after a developer clearcut 270 acres without sufficient mitigation.

To fix the problem, HCFCD examined four different alternatives outlined in this presentation, but recommended Option 1. It includes building:

  • A concrete-lined, low-flow channel within the existing channel to expand conveyance from 350 feet downstream of Creek Manor Drive to 1500 feet downstream of Mills Branch Drive. The concrete portion would be four feet deep and 20 feet wide.
  • An additional dry-bottom, 412.5 acre-foot detention basin on the northern portion of the site.
  • A new clear-span bridge at Rustling Elms to replace the current bridge over two culverts.
Four-foot-deep, 20-foot-wide concrete channel-in-a-channel (not drawn to scale) would expand conveyance without expanding current width of main channel.
Scope of recommended alternative. Does not show work on E&R contract already underway or replacement of Rustling Elms bridge. But those would be included.

The recommended alternative would not require any right-of-way acquisition. Translation: no buyouts required.

166% Increase In Stormwater Detention Capacity

Not shown in the diagram above is the stormwater detention basin that Sprint Sand and Gravel is currently working on. Under the terms of their excavation and removal contract with HCFCD, the contractor has up to three years to excavate 500,000 cubic yards. A spokesperson for HCFCD said, “We expect that they will excavate the full amount. The E&R area, like the existing Perry Homes basins, will eventually connect to or become part of the Woodridge detention-basin network to complement the recommended alternative.”

Five hundred thousand cubic yards equals 309 acre feet. With the new pond, that would add 721 acre-feet of stormwater detention to the existing site. The site currently has 271 acre feet of detention. So, the detention volume would increase 166%. It only needed to increase 40% to meet Atlas-14 requirements. Net: the recommended fix should create a considerable margin of safety.

Not Included in Recommendations

The plan does NOT include any improvements near White Oak Creek at the downstream end of Taylor Gully. HCFCD determined that flooding at that end of the channel was caused by backup from White Oak and Caney Creeks.

Area circled in red floods from water backing up from White Oak Creek, not Taylor Gully.

However, discussion during the meeting suggested that the recommended detention basins further upstream on Taylor Gully could help that area to a minor degree. The plan primarily addresses flooding along and either side of the channel highlighted above to the left of the red circle.

Bridge Replacement

Because of the concrete-lined, low-flow channel conveyance improvements that are a part of the recommended alternative, the existing culverts at Rustling Elms Drive (below) would need to be replaced. See below. An open-span bridge like the one in the background would likely replace it. The current bridge built over culverts (below) backed water up considerably during the 2019 floods and contributed to flooding homes for several blocks on either side of it.

Rustic Elms Bridge on Taylor Gully
The bridge at Rustling Elms (foreground) caused backups after Woodridge was clearcut. This would be replaced.

Comparison of Alternatives

HCFCD recommended Alternative #1 because it removes the most structures, acres and roadway from the floodplain for the second lowest cost. Compare the alternatives below. For a fuller description of each alternative, including those not recommended, see the complete presentation.

Alternative #1 is recommended.

What Comes Next?

The sequence below outlines project steps. We are currently discussing the preliminary engineering phase. After public comments have been incorporated in that report, HCFCD will deliver it to commissioner’s court and begin final design.

After close of public comments, they will be incorporated into plan transmitted to Commissioners Court.

Then, the final design will begin for all improvements. Once complete, the final design will dictate final costs and timing.

To View Video of Meeting and Comment…

HCFCD wants your input. To review the hour-long video of the meeting and/or submit a public comment, see this page (F-14 Taylor Gully Flood Risk Reduction Project).

Review the entire presentation here.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/15/22

1934 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Last Reminder: Taylor Gully Meeting Wednesday 6:30 p.m.

Harris County Flood Control District will hold a virtual Taylor Gully meeting Wednesday, December 14, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. Purpose: to discuss the findings of its plan to reduce flood risk along Taylor Gully. Register at: PublicInput.com/taylor.

To learn more about the project scope, see this post. It discusses the related effort to virtually double detention capacity on the Woodridge Village Property that HCFCD purchased in 2021. Up to six hundred homes flooded in this area twice in 2019.

About Taylor Gully

The headwaters of Taylor Gully originally started where Woodridge Village is today, just north of the Harris/Montgomery County Line (tan area in map below). From there, it cuts through Elm Grove, Mills Branch and Woodstream Forest before joining White Oak Creek which then joins Caney Creek and the East Fork San Jacinto.

Taylor Gully/Woodridge Village
Project being discussed Wednesday night

Taylor Gully Meeting Details

The virtual community engagement meeting will be held on:

December 14, 2022, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. 
Register/Join online at: PublicInput.com/taylor
Or join by phone* at 855-925-2801 with Meeting Code: 3364

The Taylor Gully meeting will begin with a brief presentation to share project updates, followed by a moderated Q&A session with Flood Control District team members. Residents will be able to submit questions, comments and input before, during and after the meeting, which will be considered during project development. Any comments not addressed during the Q&A session will receive a response at the conclusion of the public comment period.

Meeting Followup

Even if you are unable to attend the live meeting, residents are encouraged to register for the meeting to receive future project updates. A recorded version of the meeting will be available on the Flood Control District’s website and YouTube channel after the event. 

Special Needs?

Meeting accommodations can be made for those with disabilities. If needed, please contact 346-286-4040 at least three business days prior to the meeting. For questions, please contact the Flood Control District at 346-286-4000, or fill out the comment form online at hcfcd.org/taylor.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/13/22

1932 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1181 since Imelda

Save the Date: HCFCD Releases Details of Taylor Gully Meeting

On Dec. 2, I printed a story about an upcoming virtual community meeting on Taylor Gully. At the time, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) had not yet released details yet on how to attend. They have now. See their press release below. Please share it with family, friends and neighbors if you live anywhere along Taylor Gully. That includes parts of Sherwood Trails, all of Elm Grove, all of North Kingwood Forest, parts of Mills Branch, Woodstream Forest, and even parts of Porter in Montgomery County. Yes, plans will affect Porter also.

Map of Project

Map of project from HCFCD.org

Virtual Community Engagement Meeting for the
Taylor Gully Flood Risk Reduction Project

HCFCD PROJECT G103-80-03.1-E001

BOND PROJECT F-14

The Harris County Flood Control District will hold a community engagement meeting for the Taylor Gully Flood Risk Reduction Project. The purpose of this meeting is to inform residents about the project’s status, share project information and gather important community input on this effort.

The Taylor Gully Flood Risk Reduction Project focuses on improvements to Taylor Gully and the mitigation required to build the project. This project will be partly funded through the 2018 Bond Program, which was approved by Harris County voters on August 25, 2018. Community engagement is a foundational component of the Bond Program, and we invite your participation and input as projects are implemented.

Register Now

The virtual community engagement meeting will be held on:

December 14, 2022, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. 

Join online at: PublicInput.com/taylor

Or by phone* at 855-925-2801 with Meeting Code: 3364

The meeting will begin with a brief presentation to share project updates, followed by a moderated Q&A session with Flood Control District team members. Residents will be able to submit questions, comments and input before, during and after the meeting, which will be considered during project development. Any comments not addressed during the Q&A session will receive a response at the conclusion of the public comment period.

Even if you are unable to attend the live meeting, residents are encouraged to register for the meeting to receive future project updates. A recorded version of the meeting will be available on the Flood Control District’s website and YouTube channel after the event. Meeting accommodations can be made for those with disabilities. If needed, please contact 346-286-4040 at least three business days prior to the meeting. For questions, please contact the Flood Control District at 346-286-4000, or fill out the comment form online at hcfcd.org/taylor.

Esta reunión de participación comunitaria se llevará a cabo en inglés; sin embargo, el Flood Control District proporcionará intérpretes de idiomas y materiales traducidos a pedido. En caso de necesidad, comuníquese al 346-286-4040 al menos tres días hábiles antes de la reunión.

*If you attend by phone only, maps and other exhibits will not be visible. However, information will be available after the meeting on the project webpage at hcfcd.org/taylor.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/8/2022 based on a press release from HCFCD

1927 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 1176 since Imelda

Taylor Gully-Woodridge Village Meeting Scheduled for Dec. 14

The Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) has scheduled a community meeting to reveal the results of an engineering study of the Taylor Gully watershed and Woodridge Village, the aborted development that flooded Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019. The virtual meeting will be on:

  • December 14, 2022
  • 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Two Related Efforts

Because Woodridge Village sits at the headwaters of Taylor Gully, the volume of stormwater detention upstream and the amount of conveyance needed downstream are related. More of one could mean less of the other. HCFCD has been working to find the optimum solution, which should be discussed at the meeting.

Areas of Concern Identified by Community Members

Community members previously expressed concerns, including:

  • Bringing stormwater detention capacity on the Woodridge Village site up to Atlas-14 standards.
  • Straightening a Taylor Gully oxbow adjacent to Woodstream Forest where numerous homes flooded.
  • Replacing the old culvert-style bridge on Rustic Elms with an open-span bridge.
Rustic Elms Bridge on Taylor Gully
The Rustic Elms Bridge on Taylor Gully has a twin-culvert design with less conveyance than more open bridges like the one at West Lake Houston Parkway farther downstream in this image. Nearly every home behind this bridge on adjacent streets flooded in 2019.

Hundreds of homes adjacent to Woodridge Village and Taylor Gully flooded twice in 2019 after a developer clearcut approximately 270 acres before building required stormwater detention basins.

The developer then sold the troubled project to HCFCD in March 2021 after building 271 acre feet of stormwater detention capacity – an amount sufficient to meet Montgomery County’s pre-Atlas-14 standards, which were in effect at the time of permitting.

Taylor Gully One of Top Two Priorities in Kingwood Area

The Kingwood-Area Drainage Analysis from October 2020 recommended Taylor Gully as one of the top two priorities for Kingwood. However, HCFCD also recommended the Taylor Gully project be re-analyzed to determine how the use of Woodridge Village for detention could modify the recommended plan.

Here is the scope of work for the engineering company that worked on the Taylor Gully-Woodridge Village project.

42 More Acre Feet Removed to Date from Woodridge Village

In March 2021, Harris County and the City of Houston purchased the Woodridge Village property. They then started an Excavation and Removal Contract with Sprint Sand and Clay in January 2022 that could ultimately double the volume of stormwater detention on Woodridge Village.

Since February 2022, Sprint Sand & Clay has removed an average of more than 1,700 cubic feet of dirt each week from Woodridge. That’s roughly one acre foot per week. An acre foot equals 1613.33 cubic yards of material.

So, HCFCD has increased detention capacity by almost 42 acre feet since signing the contract with Sprint. That means detention capacity has already increased by about 16 percent, not quite half of what it needs to meet new Atlas-14 requirements.

Stats from HCFCD show cubic feet of dirt removed from Woodridge Village by Sprint Sand & Clay each week since start of E&R contract.

Pictures Showing Woodridge Village Status

Here are some pictures that show the extent of excavation on November 26, 2022.

Looking NE along Harris/Montgomery county line (tree line on right).
Close-up shot of active work area.
Looking S toward Sherwood Trails Village

Excavation and removal contracts give HCFCD a head start on construction of stormwater detention basins. The final dimensions may not be known yet, but HCFCD can make adjustments as it finalizes construction plans.

We should learn more about those on December 14th. Block out the date for the Taylor Gully, Woodridge Village meeting.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/2/2022

1921 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Woodridge Village Excavation, Taylor Gully Updates

Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) says that, as of 10/31/22, Sprint Sand and Clay has hauled off 66,094 cubic yards of dirt from Woodridge Village. That means, despite the slowing real estate market, that the company has exceeded its Excavation and Removal contract minimum within nine months of the first year.

Objective of Excavation

The objective of the contract: to get a head start on the removal of up to 500,000 cubic yards of dirt from what will eventually become the sixth stormwater detention basin on the Woodridge Village property. Woodridge forms the headwaters of Taylor Gully.

The Woodridge property flooded up to 600 homes in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest twice in 2019. That happened after the a developer clearcut the property before installing sufficient stormwater detention capacity.

Since then:

Community Meeting Will Reveal Findings of Engineering Study

HCFCD is now planning a community meeting to share the results with affected residents before the end of the year.

It’s not clear yet exactly:

  • How much additional detention Woodridge will need
  • How much channel widening Taylor Gully will need
  • Whether any bridges need to be replaced
  • How upstream improvements will affect residents farther downstream.

The preliminary engineering report should address all those questions.

Photos from September and October

In the meantime, a parade of dump trucks visits the Woodridge site most days to haul off dirt from where the sixth basin will go. The sixth basin could double stormwater detention capacity on the site – if Sprint excavates all 500,000 CY.

As of mid-September 2022, Sprint Sand and Clay had removed 57,785 cubic yards (CY). Currently, they have removed a total of 66,094 CY. That means they removed 8,309 CY in the last 6 weeks. And that in turn means the current monthly rate is about 5500 CY.

Sprint’s contract calls for them to remove a minimum of 60,000 cubic yards per year or 5,000 per month.

The September and October pictures below show how far Sprint has come in the last six weeks.

Woodridge Village E&R contract progress end of September 2022
End of September 2022
End of October. Sprint has not gone much farther, but they have gone deeper.

See pictures taken below from the reverse angle. The majority of the work now takes place at the far end.

Extent of excavation on September 24.
End of October 2022.

Groundwater appears to be seeping into excavated areas.

HCFCD did not confirm WHY Sprint appears to be digging shallower. Amy Stone, a HCFCD spokesperson, did say however that the site contains multiple types of soil. The volume removed in a particular location may relate to demand for a particular type.

More news about the community meeting and study findings when it becomes available.

Posted by Bob Rehak on November 1, 2022

1890 Days since Hurricane Harvey

New Woodridge Village Detention Basin About 12% Excavated, Engineering Study Almost Done

A new Woodridge Village Stormwater Detention Basin that could almost double detention capacity on the site continues to move forward slowly as housing starts slow. The trend at Woodridge seems consistent with other excavation and removal (E&R) contracts countywide.

Meanwhile, the first draft of a preliminary engineering study for the Woodridge site and Taylor Gully is complete and going through management review at Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD).

Status of E&R Contract on Woodridge Village Site

As of mid-September 2022, Sprint Sand and Clay had removed 57,785 cubic yards of dirt from a planned detention basin on the Woodridge Village property in Montgomery County. Sprint is working under an E&R contract with HCFCD. The contract calls for them to remove up to 500,000 cubic yards at a minimum of 60,000 cubic yards per year or 5,000 per month.

Looking NE across new basin. Last month, it extended as far as the middle of the far pile of concrete pipes on the right.

So the company, which began work in February, has virtually met its first year minimum after eight months. However, the rate has slowed somewhat in recent weeks as housing starts have slowed due to a rise in interest rates. In the last four weeks for which totals are available (8/22/22 – 9/18/22), Sprint has removed only 3,045 cubic yards. To date, that brings the total excavated to 12% of the contract max.

Housing starts in the South have been especially hard hit. According to the Census Bureau, starts in August fell 13.5% compared to July and 15.4% compared to a year ago. That depresses demand for fill dirt and makes it harder for Sprint to find buyers for it.

Under the terms of its HCFCD E&R contract, Sprint gets only $1,000 for removing up to 500,000 cubic yards, but has the right to resell all the dirt at market rates. That’s how it makes its profit.

Woodridge Vs. Countywide Data

To see whether Woodridge was an anomaly or part of a trend countywide, I asked HCFCD to show readers the bigger picture. Alan Black, Deputy Director of Engineering and Construction supplied the data below. The chart shows the trend in all HCFCD E&R contracts countywide going back 10 years.

Source: HCFCD via FOIA Request

All data is open to interpretation. But I see three main “regions” in the chart above.

  • The first is pre-flood bond – before August 2018. With the exception of a few blips, excavation remained below 5,000 cubic yards per month. That’s roughly equal to the average being removed from Woodridge Village each month.
  • The second is a huge spike that occurred after flood-bond approval. it peaked at almost 35,000 cubic yards per month as HCFCD readied engineering studies on more than 180 projects countywide.
  • Third, HCFCD had a sharp falloff at the start of the pandemic in January 2020. After things stabilized, we see a gradual rebuilding. It coincides with a housing boom and is followed by another gradual drop-off. The latter coincides with rising interest rates and falling housing starts.

Regardless, the trend in the last few months does not bode well for those concerned about finishing the new Woodridge Stormwater Detention Basin quickly.

Looking W. The new Woodridge Village stormwater detention basin at the top of the frame could eventually fill most of the area between the road on the left and the ditch on the right.

Status of Preliminary Engineering Study on Taylor Gully

We should remember, however, that HCFCD always intended the Woodridge E&R contract as a head start on excavation while IDCUS finished its preliminary engineering study on Taylor Gully and Woodridge Village. The study began in mid-2021. IDCUS had 300 days to complete it.

IDCUS submitted the first draft of its results several months ago.

Amy Stone, HCFCD spokesperson

Since then, HCFCD staff has reviewed it and asked IDCUS to take a closer look at some areas, said Stone. At this point, the revised draft is working its way up to HCFCD top management for final review and comment. HCFCD has started preparing a presentation for all those affected in the area and exploring the best dates for a community input session.

Assuming HCFCD management doesn’t ask IDCUS for more revisions, we should know recommendations and next steps this fall. Following a public comment period, more changes may need to be made to engineering plans before design and construction start.

Folks who flooded in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest as well as others farther downstream in Mills Branch and Woodstream Village eagerly await the findings. More news when it becomes available.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/30/2022

1859 Days since Hurricane Harvey