Tag Archive for: tree lane

Tree Lane Project Supposed to be Done Today, But Hasn’t Started

6/28/24 – According to Houston Public Works’ website, the Tree Lane Bridge Rehabilitation Project next to Bear Branch Elementary was to have been completed today. But construction hasn’t even started yet.

Completion Scheduled for End of June

The latest update, posted just last Thursday, shows “end of June 2024” as the promised completion date.

Screen capture from 4PM June 28, 2024, last workday of the month.

But as of the end of the day today, equipment hadn’t moved in approximately two months, with the exception of moving an excavator farther back from the creek when erosion crept dangerously close to it in the May floods.

Erosion from May floods threatened the parking spot for this construction equipment.

Originally, Houston Public Works said construction would take 6 months. Now we have just 5 weeks before the start of the next school year.

Hurricane Approaching

Meanwhile, a tropical depression has formed in the Atlantic. And the National Hurricane Center predicts it will enter the Gulf as a hurricane approximately a week from now.

On the current trajectory, Houston would be in the cone.

There’s still a large degree of uncertainty associated with any storm this far out. But this underscores the fact that the Tree Lane Bridge project is far behind schedule and we are likely entering a very active hurricane season.

Development this far east in late June is unusual, according to the NHC. In fact, they say, “There have only been a few storms in history that have formed over the central or eastern tropical Atlantic this early in the year.” Some models are already predicting this could become a major hurricane (Cat 3 or 4).

The lack of Tree Lane Bridge Rehabilitation progress will expose the bridge to even more erosion if this storm strikes the Houston area. As you can see, the bridge can’t afford much more.

Erosion under bridge

Reasons for Delays

On June 13, Darryl Burrell, EIT, Graduate Engineer, Capital Projects for Houston Public Works, wrote, “There have been multiple instances of utility relocations.”

He added, “Some have already been completed. Our personnel are coordinating with multiple teams and entities. We are all working to get this issue alleviated in a timely manner.”

Photo 6/13/24. That 12″ black pipe is reportedly a city water line that has been exposed since at least April 2022.

I saw a cable company working at the location on 6/17/24, but nothing since then. That was almost two weeks ago. That swooping line in the foreground remains there today.

Editorial Comment: Enforce Deadlines

I’m not sure who is to blame, but would observe this.

As the City looks for ways to trim its budget, it should look at enforcing deadlines.

I wonder how many times contractors have had to reschedule crews around other contractors that didn’t do their jobs on time. That has to increase costs.

And one last issue. Construction delays exposed this area to even greater erosion. That may force revision of the engineering plan, construction drawings, bids, timetables and more.

Why do it once when you can do it twice? Sorry for the cynicism.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 6/28/24

2495 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Tree Lane Bridge over Ben’s Branch: Before and After Repairs

Yesterday, I posted about the hidden costs of flooding. Here’s another one: infrastructure repairs. And another one: re-doing infrastructure repairs. Like those to the Tree Lane Bridge over Ben’s Branch.

History of Issue

Upstream development in Montgomery County with insufficient and un-repaired detention pond capacity started dumping excess water into Ben’s Branch. It didn’t take long for the area under the Tree Lane bridge next to Bear Branch Elementary to start eroding badly.

Tree Lane was already a pinch point in the Ben’s Branch floodway. That and the combination of even more water during the Tax Day, Memorial Day, Harvey, May 2019, and Imelda floods all took a toll. The picture below shows what the bridge looked like on December 1, 2019. Hundreds of kids cross this bridge on their way to Bear Branch Elementary every day.

The Before Shot: Taken November 31, 2019

After taking the shot above, I emailed it to the City. To their credit, they sent crews out right away to repair it. Heavy equipment sat at the site for 2.5 months.

After the Repairs

About two weeks ago, the last piece left the job site. So today, I drove by to get an “after” shot. See the improvements below.

The After Shot: Taken 2/29/2020, three months later.

The City put rip rap across the creek to reduce erosion from water shooting out from the storm sewer in the upper right. They also broke up some of the large slabs of concrete to form additional rip rap.

However, it appears that they:

  • Have done little to stabilize the bridge supports.
  • Left slabs of concrete leaning against an exposed pipeline.
  • Threw a traffic sign and traffic cone into the creek.
  • Left about 50 bags of sand on the large slab at the left.

Someone else could have dumped the construction materials and sign. Crappy looking areas always encourage illegal dumping.

Enlargement of detail from previous shot showing sand that has been left behind or dumped.

I’m guessing that the rip rap may help reduce erosion from the storm sewer. But…

I see little here to stop erosion from upstream of Tree Lane or reduce danger to the pipeline. More important, the City did nothing to increase conveyance under the bridge.

The Tree Lane Bridge still forms a pinch point that restricts conveyance of Ben’s Branch.

Of course, the City may handle the conveyance issue in a second job. That could help build a case for doubling those drainage fees.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/29/2019

914 Days after Hurricane Harvey

Tree Lane Bridge vs. Power of Moving Water

The downstream side of Ben’s Branch at Tree Lane. Photo taken 11/31/2019.

Tree Lane Bridge over Ben’s Branch

Bear Branch Elementary and Child Time on Tree Lane in Kingwood sit right next to a bridge over Ben’s Branch. Most people in Kingwood don’t need a reminder of the power of moving water. But for those with short memories this is it. A floodway and floodplain more than 250 feet wide narrows down to 80 feet at the bridge.

Lap-Band Surgery for the Creek

It’s like the creek had lap-band surgery.

The predictable result: water backs up behind the bridge and then jets through the opening. The water has literally torn the concrete lining designed to prevent erosion into confetti. Note how the erosion has also exposed a pipeline.

The floodway and floodplain constrict radically at Tree Lane. Source: Fema National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer.

Note the erosion immediately downstream from the bridge.

Erosion immediately downstream from the Tree Lane Bridge above. Wood chips are from HCFCD crews de-snagging the banks of the creek. Photo taken 11/30/2019.

Powerful lessons for anyone who thinks he or she can outsmart Mother Nature for long.

One More Thing to Consider in Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis

Harris County Flood Control is in the middle of its Kingwood Area Drainage Analysis right now. I hope they take a close look at this. While the bridge itself seems stable at this point, if this erosion continues unabated, that could easily change.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 12/2/2019

825 Days since Hurricane Harvey and 74 since Imelda