Poor Farm Ditch could begin construction next year, HCFCD says to Southside Place council

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Representatives from the Harris County Flood Control District presented plans for their reconstruction of the Poor Farm Ditch to the residents and City Council of Southside Place at the council’s June 11 meeting.

Alan Black, the HCFCD director of operations, said the current infrastructure of the ditch is nearing the end of its life cycle, and the proposed $17 million construction project would improve the ditch’s structural integrity and ability to convey water.

Black said the design of the improvements to the ditch was nearing completion, construction could begin as early as next year and that construction would last about 540 days once it began.

“Construction is not imminent,” Black said. “In the best of scenarios, we wouldn’t be starting construction on this until sometime next year. There’s a number of things that play into that timetable, not the least of which is the things we need to continue to work on and negotiate with both the city of Southside Place and the city of West University Place.”

Current designs would have the flood control district oversee the widening of the ditch’s base from 6 feet to 12 feet to increase the ditch’s capacity and the construction of 3-foot-wide walkways with railings on both sides of the ditch in order for county workers to provide inspections.

During construction, the flood control district will require the temporary use of 10 feet on either side of the ditch, after which the land will be turned back over to the cities for maintenance.

“That’s one of the many ways we’ve thought creatively about trying to reach a compromise that we believe will allow us to build a project that will withstand the test of time over the next 50 years,” Black said.

The next steps for the flood control district will be securing funding for the project; receiving input from the public; and negotiating with the cities about the area of construction, methods to secure the ditch to prevent recreational use and coming up with feasible drainage solutions for home properties adjacent to the ditch.

“Clearly, there’s still a good amount of disagreement here tonight on what we want to do and what we believe is the right approach,” Black said. “But you have our commitment to continue that communication to where, hopefully, we can at least achieve an understanding of each other on what we’re trying to do.”

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