Federal funds awarded to Harris County for flood tunnel feasibility study

The Harris County Flood Control District was awarded a federal grant to conduct a feasibility study to learn if a flood tunnelu2014similar to the one under the San Antonio River Walku2014could be built in Harris County.

The Harris County Flood Control District was awarded a federal grant to conduct a feasibility study to learn if a flood tunnelu2014similar to the one under the San Antonio River Walku2014could be built in Harris County.

The Harris County Flood Control District was awarded funding for a feasibility study on building a flood tunnel.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded 2018 Disaster Supplemental funding of $320,000 to the district to conduct the study, according to a Feb. 7 press release. The district will provide an $80,000 match for a total project cost of $400,000, said Matt Zeve, the deputy executive director for the flood-control district.

Large deep-diameter tunnels can move large volumes of stormwater in the case of a major storm event, Zeve told Community Impact Newspaper in August. These tunnels cost billions of dollars and take years to build but may significantly help with drainage throughout the Houston region, he said in August.

The district cannot use the grant money until the Harris County Commissioners Court votes to accept the grant, an action that may not happen for two weeks, he said. The district applied for the grant in August.

The grant will fund the four- to five-monthlong feasibility study that will determine whether a flood tunnel in Harris County is possible to construct based on local geological conditions, such as fault lines and soil, Zeve said.

“If this is an idea that can work and that can really help with major drainage and flooding issues in Harris County, we want to vet that out fully so that we know if we can add the concept of the idea of a deep tunnel … to our tool box,“ he said.

Additional studies


If the feasibility study concludes that a flood tunnel can be supported by Harris County’s geology, then the district will proceed to two additional studies to map out specific tunnel routes and the scope of the project, Zeve said. These additional studies will determine the cost of building a flood tunnel, the amount of water the tunnels can move, and where the water will be transported to and from, among other details.

These additional studies will cost about $2.5 million, and the district has already secured funds through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Zeve said. The Texas General Land Office allocated $1.1 billion in funds to Harris County for Hurricane Harvey recovery through this federal grant program, he said.

“Once we get through this this little quick feasibility study, and if everything turns out positive, we will be ready to ready to move forward fairly quickly with Phase 2 and Phase 3,” Zeve said.

The flood district had previously contracted engineering firm Black & Veatch to put together a technical memorandum to help the district understand how a flood tunnel could work in Harris County.

The findings from the memo showed that a potential deep-diameter tunnel that ran about 23.5 miles under I-10 from Hwy. 6 to the Houston Ship Channel would cost about $2.6 billion.

However, Zeve stressed that only the second and third phases of studies will determine where a tunnel could be placed, how long the tunnel could be and how much the project will cost.

“I support this idea," Zeve said. “I'm always trying to figure out new ways to deal with the problems I'm charged to deal with. It’s just we have to go through a very organized series of steps to [do our due diligence]. I don't want to throw away millions of dollars on [additional] studies if we should have done this very first step to see if [the flood tunnel] can even be done in our area.”
By Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018 as the editor of the Katy edition. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Jen has written about business, politics and education. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.

<

MOST RECENT

Hospitals in the Greater Houston area are adapting to accommodate a surge of coronavirus cases. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Report offers first glimpse at hospital readiness across Houston area

Hospitals within the Texas Medical Center system in the Greater Houston area have plans in place to increase the number of ICU beds available by as much as 80%.

Dr. Campbell talks about the effect of the coronavirus on mental health.(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Kelsey-Seybold doctor talks about mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Stefanie Campbell discusses the coronavirus’ effect on mental illness.

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
State legislators request federal officials halt activity on Texas Central's high-speed rail project

Dozens of elected officials representing Texas requested the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put an end to activity related to Texas Central’s high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.

Those anxiously awaiting the end of stay-at-home orders have another thing to look forward to: progress on several transportation projects around Clear Lake and League City. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Despite pandemic, Bay Area transportation projects making progress

Those anxiously awaiting the end of stay-at-home orders have another thing to look forward to: progress on several transportation projects around Clear Lake and League City.

The amicus brief is in support of an April 7 lawsuit filed by the Texas Democratic Party seeking legislative action to allow voters who fear exposure to the coronavirus to vote via mail-in ballot. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County Attorney's Office authorized to file amicus brief supporting mail-in ballots amid coronavirus outbreak

The amicus brief is in support of an April 7 lawsuit filed by the Texas Democratic Party seeking legislative action to allow voters who fear exposure to the coronavirus to vote via mail-in ballot.

Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper
Harris County in ‘standoff’ over proposed inmate release to curb coronavirus spread

Hidalgo said the county is now at a crossroads having to weigh the lesser of two evils: releasing nonviolent inmates back into society or risking coronavirus spreading rampant through the county jail and filling the county’s hospital beds.

The $48,000 deal with the Cambria Hotel in downtown Houston will provide up to 400 rooms over the course of the month. (Screenshot via Google Earth)
Houston leases additional 400 hotel rooms for first responder quarantine

The city secured an agreement with a downtown hotel to provide up to 400 rooms throughout the month of April.

Katy ISD is serving free meals for children at select campuses during its temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Katy ISD)
ROUNDUP: The latest coronavirus coverage for South Houston readers

Here are some coronavirus developments South Houston readers may have missed.

Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi is the associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Q&A: Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi discusses vaccine development

Dr. Bottazzi is the associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

This collaborative effort, known as H-Force, is meant to bring together resources, technologies and expertise to address the Houston area’s growing needs amid the global pandemic, according to a release from HCC. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Houston Community College forms partnership to address protective gear shortage

This collaborative effort, known as H-Force, is meant to bring together resources, technologies and expertise to address the Houston area’s growing needs amid the global pandemic, according to a release from HCC.

On April 9, the Galveston County Health District will open in Texas City its first free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site for high-risk people who meet specific screening criteria. (Courtesy city of League City)
Galveston County to open first drive-thru coronavirus testing site

On April 9, the Galveston County Health District will open in Texas City its first free COVID-19 drive-thru testing site for high-risk people who meet specific screening criteria.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order April 8 to temporarily close all parks countywide throughout the upcoming Easter weekend, April 10-13, in hopes of discouraging social gatherings. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County to close parks countywide for Easter weekend, April 10-13

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo signed an order April 8 to temporarily close all parks countywide throughout the upcoming Easter weekend, April 10-13, in hopes of discouraging social gatherings.