Bellaire considers new drainage criteria for prioritizing road projects

Bellaire City Council
Bellaire City Council discussed proposed changes to how it prioritizes road projects at its Nov. 18 meeting. (Alex Hosey/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bellaire City Council discussed proposed changes to how it prioritizes road projects at its Nov. 18 meeting. (Alex Hosey/Community Impact Newspaper)

As the city considers new criteria for prioritizing future road projects, Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg said the city should break with tradition and assign greater value to drainage benefits overall.

“For years I have actually questioned the 60-40 split,” Friedberg said, referring to the 60% weight given to drainage factors versus the 40% for road conditions. “70% is kind of the starting point, minimum, for me. I certainly could entertain going higher than that.”

Under recommendations presented to City Council on Nov. 18 and developed by city staff through the Flood Hazard Mitigation Task Force, the city is recommending keeping the 60-40 weighting in order to balance drainage needs as well as to maintain its roadways, but it is recommending adding more drainage-related criteria to the mix.

“What we’re looking for an objective, scientific approach to giving priority to projects,” Director of Public Works Michael Leach told Community Impact Newspaper. “It’s a tool to help us plan.”

Under one proposed change, the city would apply a cost-benefit calculation that uses the age of the homes along a street and their average repair costs during Hurricane Harvey as one way to evaluate the priority of a street rebuild.

These costs per structure range from $30,000 for homes built before 1980 on the low end to $80,000 for homes built between 1995 and 2004. Homes built after 2004 have lower damage costs at $50,000. These figures would represent costs avoided by implementing a street rebuild, officials said.

“This could be politically interpreted as, 'Old houses are getting the short end of the deal, and new houses are getting more benefit' ... whether it works out that way, I don’t know,” Council Member Pat McLaughlin said. “But perception is king.”

The criteria would only apply to future street reconstruction, not maintenance, overlays, potholes and other minor repairs, Leach said. Those items would be covered by the annual Pavement Management Program, he said.

But the criteria could be applied to an anticipated $970,000 in remaining bond funds as well as to a $4.3 million federal grant the city expects to receive in the coming months.

Other changes proposed include factoring in the number of structures flooded on a street and the number of structures served by a road’s underground storm sewer. However, the city recommended against using Hurricane Harvey rainfall data as part of its drainage benefit calculations.

The current criteria were implemented prior to the Bonds for Better Bellaire program in 2016; they use a mix of eight drainage criteria and roads' pavement condition to assign a score to each possible project. The pavement condition was measured in 2015 with the help of a consultant, which assigned a score based on status of the roadway.

Leach said the city would take council’s feedback and return the item for further review at another council meeting.

By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


Houston fireworks display
Here’s how to celebrate Fourth of July across the Greater Houston area

Several Houston-area cities are still planning fireworks shows with drive-in or virtual components this Fourth of July.

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott: Texans must wear masks in public starting July 3

"COVID-19 is not going away," Gov. Abbott said. "In fact, it is getting worse."

The Kemah Boardwalk will be open Fourth of July weekend. (Courtesy Kemah Boardwalk)
3 Houston-area amusement properties will be open Fourth of July weekend

The Kemah Boardwalk, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier and Downtown Aquarium Houston are offering a joint weekend adventure pass for $29.99.

Episcopal Health Foundation
Survey: Texans support emphasis on improving economy, safety, pollution to address overall health

“COVID-19 is clearly showing what Texans already know: the state needs to address underlying, non-medical conditions that have a dramatic impact on their health,” Episcopal Health Foundation President and CEO Elena Marks said.

The daily total, the third highest in the county's history, came as Texas confirmed a total of 8,076 new cases overall, a new high for the state. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1,437 new cases confirmed July 1 as Texas Medical Center pushes into ICU surge capacity

The daily total, the third highest in the county's history, came as Texas confirmed a total of 8,076 new cases overall, a new high for the state.

The City of Galveston has decided to close all beaches for the 4th of July weekend. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Galveston closes beaches for Fourth of July weekend

The beaches will be closed from 5 a.m July 3 until 12:01 a.m. July 6. No cars will be allowed to park on Seawall Boulevard during this time.

Texas Medical Center entered Phase 2 surge levels as of July 1. (Courtesy Texas Medical Center)
Texas Medical Center enters Phase 2 of capacity plan as COVID-19 ICU use continues to rise

ICU occupancy at Texas Medical Center has entered Phase 2 surge levels.

Houston ISD
Houston ISD will restrict facility access, limit curbside meal program July 3-19

For the 37 summer meal sites that will be closed, families will be able to receive a six-day supply of meals July 2.

West University Place has canceled its Fourth of July celebration and will soon temporarily close some nonessential services. (Community Impact staff)
West U Fourth of July event canceled; non-essential services on hold starting July 3

The city of West University Place has canceled its Fourth of July celebration, citing safety and vendor concerns, and has suspended nonessential services beginning July 3, the city announced.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announces a partnership between the city, Harris County and a team of nonprofits to address chronic homelessness at a July 1 press conference. (Screenshot courtesy Zoom)
Updated: Harris County, Houston commit $58 million to program that could "functionally end chronic homelessness" in the county

The funding will be used to rapidly increase access to housing for as many as 5,000 homeless individuals.

Money stock art
Comptroller: Texas June sales tax revenue totaled $2.7 billion, down 6.5% from a year ago

The Texas comptroller's office has released June sales tax revenue figures.

Construction on a project that will add a stormwater detention basin at Willow Waterhole Bayou is set to begin. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Willow Waterhole Bayou stormwater detention basin project set to begin construction

Survey and prep activities are already underway with an expected completion date in three months.