Tag Archive for: traffic

Northpark Drive Closed Saturday 8PM to Sunday 4AM

Northpark Drive between Russell Palmer Drive and Loop 494 will be closed this Saturday night (2/12/22) from 8PM to Sunday 4AM.

Simultaneous Railroad and Ditch Maintenance

Northpark Drive looking east across 494 and railroad tracks. Note ponding water in ditch not moving farther down. Also note traffic backed up past Russell-Palmer. That’s 0.8 miles from the railroad tracks in the foreground. Photo was taken at 12:33PM on a Wednesday afternoon last July.
Northpark Drive looking west across Russell-Palmer Road. Note siltation in ditch.

Union Pacific will perform maintenance on the Northpark Drive railroad crossing. And Montgomery County will perform ditch maintenance in the median from 494 to Russell-Palmer. The coordinated effort will reduce disruption to the public.

Detour Map

During the closure, westbound traffic will be re-routed down Northpark and out Kingwood Drive.

Eastbound traffic will be rerouted down 494 to Kingwood Drive and then back north on Woodland Hills.

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin issued this traffic control plan with his press release.

Traffic detours in effect from 8PM Saturday through 4AM Sunday

Minimizing Traffic Delays

Since Union Pacific was shutting down the road anyway, Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Metts seized the opportunity de-litter and de-silt the ditch in the Northpark median between 494 and Russell-Palmer Drive. “Daytime/ weekday traffic in the area has become so heavy in recent years,” said Metts, “that it’s difficult to use heavy equipment. It causes major traffic problems and is dangerous for those working.”

Metts hopes to use the opportunity to improve drainage without causing unnecessary traffic delays.

Growth Pushing Ditch to Its Capacity Limit

In recent years, commercial growth has pushed the median ditch down Northpark to its limits. This will be welcome maintenance.

Water along this stretch of Northpark Drive flows toward the Kingwood Diversion Ditch behind the fireworks stand.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/11/22

1627 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Contractor Not Executing All Requirements in Approved Woodridge Plans

A review of construction plans for detention ponds and other site work in the troubled Woodridge Village subdivision revealed several deficiencies in the contractor’s performance to date. These deficiencies contributed to the widespread flooding on May 7 in Elm Grove and North Kingwood Forest. They have also affected life in those and other neighboring communities for months.

The plans submitted by LJA Engineers for Job #2027-1100L are dated July, 2018. Both the City of Houston and Montgomery County approved them. The plans specify responsibilities for Rebel Contractors.

Deficiencies include, but are not limited to, inadequate detention, poor drainage, missing silt fencing, not displaying permits, failure to repair damage to streets, and lack of supervision.

Missing Silt Fencing

Let’s start with a pretty standard one: silt fencing. Their purpose is to control runoff that carries silt into streets and sewers. The objective: avoid clogged storm drains that can exacerbate flooding and require expensive remediation.

The law requires contractors to erect silt fencing BEFORE they even clear the land. The contractor completed clearcutting the land adjacent to Elm Grove last November. But when I visited the job site on May 9 of this year – six months later – I could see no silt fencing…anywhere.

Image taken on 5/9/19 at north end of Village Springs Drive in Elm Grove. Note lack of silt fencing and presence of clay and silt in street.

On May 16, one day after the LJA site inspection, I took this picture.

Silt fence installed AFTER flood.

Page 6, Point #5 says, “Contractor must inspect all structural controls at a minimum once every seven days and within 24 hours after a storm event that meets or exceeds .5 inches per 24 hour period.” Structural controls would include the silt fencing that wasn’t installed for 6 months.

Does it really make a difference? Look at the water quality in these two pictures taken by Jeff Miller in front of his home in Elm Grove.

Water in street in front of Jeff Miller’s house in Elm Grove during Harvey, BEFORE Rebel Contractors clearcut the area to the north.
Water in same street on May 7 after clearcutting adjacent area. No silt fences were installed.

Says Miller, the homeowner who took the pictures above, “Certainly in addition to suspended solids, there were also dissolved chemicals and biological materials (eg., diatoms) swept into Taylor Gully and our drinking water.” Miller is a retired project manager for a large pharmaceutical company and knows about the importance of avoiding contamination.

Missing or Inadequate Supervision

Several pages in the plans, including the cover page, specify that a professional engineer must monitor construction to ensure compliance with construction plans and specifications. If that person was doing his/her job, how could he/she possibly miss the lack of silt fencing…which is also specified on numerous pages? You should have to climb over it to get into the site!

Inadequate Drainage

Page 2, Column 1, Point #3 states, “Contractor shall be responsible for damages to existing water, wastewater, and storm drainage lines.” According to residents and maps available on the Montgomery County Appraisal District web site, the contractor filled in existing drainage before Elm Grove flooded; it never had before.

Also on Page 2, Column 1, Point #5 states, “Adequate drainage shall be maintained at all times during construction and any drainage ditch or structure disturbed during construction shall be restored to existing conditions or better.” Again, the contractor filled in existing drainage, did not restore it, and Elm Grove flooded. The contractor also worked on the site for six months without installing the main detention pond in the area to where all water was draining. After the flood, it took them only a day or so to excavate most of the pond. Why wait so long?

Here’s where it should have gone.

Detention pond in red circle just above flooded homes was not in place before flood. Yet all the drainage for 268 acres exited the site through here. See photos below.
Image taken on 5/12/19, five days after storm by Bob Rehak shows detention pond S2 has not yet been excavated.
Four days later, photo by Jeff Miller on 5/16/19 shows S2 pond being excavated. Pond still has not reached required depth of 15 feet. Representative of LJA Engineers did not recall seeing the excavation during their site inspection on May 15.

Street Damage

Page 2, Column 1, Point #8 states, “Any damage to any of the existing pavement and/or utilities must be repaired immediately. The contractor must notify the appropriate utility owner who will make the repairs at the contractor’s expense.” People in Porter have been complaining for months about how heavy construction traffic has crumbled their asphalt streets.

Heavy truck about to turn left into Webb Street construction entrance. Photo by Bob Rehak.
Damage to Web Street from construction traffic. Pile of dirt was dumped there by contractor. Photo by Bob Rehak.

Keeping Pipe Free of Dirt

Page 2, Column 1, Point #15 states, “All pipe and reinforcement steel shall be kept free of dirt and other debris. Any damage to the coating of the various materials must be repaired.” See image below. Nuff said.

Taken from Woodland Hills Drive on May 8, 2019

Maintaining Adequate and Positive Drainage at All Times

Page 2, Column 1, Point #16 says, “Contractor shall be responsible for maintaining adequate and positive drainage at all times during construction of proposed facilities.” If the adequate part was true, Edy Cogdill could not have shot this video of water pouring out of the construction site and flooding Village Springs Drive.

It is also unlikely that the high water rescue vehicle below would have been necessary on May 7.

Houston Fire Department High Water Rescue Truck during May 7 flood in Elm Grove.

No Traffic Controls

Page 2, Column 4, Point #1 under Traffic Notes states, “Contractor shall provide and install traffic control devices in conformance with Part VI of the Texas Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.” No traffic control devices are installed anywhere around the site as of this writing, yet construction machinery barges right out into traffic, as this equipment did in front of me. With one way in and out of this neighborhood, residents complain that they have had to wait up to half an hour while large equipment gets stuck in ditches.

Residents complain that equipment frequently blocks traffic. I witnessed this personally.

Page 6, Point #10 says, “Contractor is responsible for cleaning mud and or dirt tracked onto existing streets, by his workman’s, contractor’s or suppliers’ vehicles. Street must be cleared within 24 hours of when the tracking occurs.” Above, I caught the contractor dumping dirt on the street, in a feeble attempt to shore up the shoulder to widen the turning radius. The contractor succeeded only in further destroying the street. He should have widened his own driveway instead.

Complying with Environmental Laws

Page 6, Point #3 states, “Contractor will be responsible for complying with all environmental laws.” One such law stipulates that the contractor isn’t supposed to let silty water leave the site; hence the discussion of silt fences above. Another states that they must post their Stormwater Pollution Prevention Permits at site entrances. I looked high and low for those without success for the week after the flood. Then suddenly on May 16, I saw this posted.

Photographed on May 16, 2019, this should have been posted from the start of construction.

Such notices enable residents to file complaints when they notice violations. Not posting the notice makes it difficult to know where to complain or about whom to complain. If you have seen other suspicious activities you wish to report, here’s all about Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans. They’re supposed to be monitored by the TCEQ.

But in this case, the TCEQ turfed the investigation to LJA Engineering, which was paid by both the developer (to plan the site) and Montgomery County (to inspect permit compliance).

I could go on and on. (Actually, I’m just getting warmed up.) There are 26 pages of plans relating to the detention and drainage. Download them for yourself and let me know what else you find.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/23/2019 with help from Jeff Miller, Gretchen Dunlap-Smith and Abel Vera

632 Days after Hurricane Harvey