Despite hiccups, Exploration Green on track for late 2021 completion

A couple snags and the weather have delayed the construction of Exploration Green, but the project is making good progress, Clear Lake City Water Authority officials said.

Exploration Green is a former golf course that is now a detention pond located between El Camino Real, Bay Area Boulevard and Space Center Boulevard. Once fully built, the pond will hold 500 million gallons of stormwater, protecting an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 homes from flooding. The project includes tree and wetland nurseries that will be used to fill Exploration Green with plants and wildlife as it is constructed.

Phase 1 is complete, and residents are using its trails regularly. Phase 2, which was originally estimated to be finished this spring, is about 70% complete, CLCWA General Manager Jennifer Morrow said.

“The second phase excavation should be finished in late summer, and finishing touches [will be] completed by late fall,” CLCWA President John Branch wrote in an email to Community Impact Newspaper.

Phase 2 fell behind schedule when the Houston Airport System ordered work to halt in September because it was discovered the project violated city ordinance by being too close to Ellington Airport. The Airport Board of Adjustment granted the project a variance for work to resume, and the contractors had mostly caught up until recent rain again slowed construction down, Morrow said.

Contractors are in the process of tying the first two phases together so stormwater drains from Phase 2 to Phase 1. Trails will be constructed after, she said.

Phase 3A, which is the southern part of Phase 3, starts in a few weeks. Phase 3B cannot start at the same time because it includes a Harris County Flood Control District channel. The CLCWA had to consider extra engineering details to ensure Exploration Green would not interfere with the district’s channel or affect those who live downstream of it, Morrow said.

Phase 4 is in final design and review. Contractors will likely begin on that phase in the fall, and Phase 3B will likely be completed after that, Morrow said.

“[We] have to wait until August to let the contract for Phase 4 so that we qualify for a $500,000 Texas Parks & Wildlife [Department] grant,” Branch wrote.

The project will likely end in late 2021 with Phase 5, which is now being used to house the tree and wetland nurseries. Trees for Houston donated 1,000 trees to the nursery, which the authority is using to fill completed phases with greenery. Phase 1 has 800 trees from the nursery, Morrow said.

The wetland nursery is growing plants that the authority will place in the detention pond to help clean and improve the quality of stormwater that passes through it, she said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

<

MOST RECENT

Eleven days after officials across Harris County's criminal justice system met to discuss how to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail during the coronavirus pandemic, progress has been "excruciatingly slow," according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
Progress 'excruciatingly slow' on effort to address overcrowding at Harris County Jail

"I know it is keeping many of us awake at night, and it should. It absolutely should," said U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, who is presiding over an ongoing lawsuit dealing with the county's felony bail practices.

Texas Medical Center offers coronavirus updates

More than 118,000 people have received their first shot.

Harris County Flood Control District is planning to submit preliminary flood plain maps to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in late 2021. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County's preliminary flood plain maps to be released in late 2021

The new flood insurance rates in Harris County could take effect in 2023 or 2024.

vaccine drive-thru
Houston opens first drive-thru vaccination site

The site aims to distribute 1,000 doses per day for the first week and can scale up if more doses become available.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced the opening of a COVID-19 vaccine waitlist at a Jan. 25 press conference. (Screenshot courtesy Facebook)
Harris County to open waitlist for COVID-19 vaccines Jan. 26

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo warned that vaccine supply remains "extremely limited," and it will still take time for those waitlisted to get an appointment.

There are a total of nine existing vaccine hub sites across Harris County and Galveston County. (Courtesy Texas Children’s Hospital)
NEW: Clear Creek ISD, Harris County Public Health to use Challenger Columbia Stadium parking lot as vaccine hub

The stadium is one of eight rotating sites; it will be operational Jan. 27-30.

Eric Williams started as superintendent Jan. 18. (Courtesy of Clear Creek ISD)
Eric Williams concludes first week as Clear Creek ISD superintendent

Williams plans to spend his first months on the job discovering how the district can sustain and build on its quality of education.

“Hope is on the horizon,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George said at a press conference Jan. 4. “The vaccine is here.”
Vaccine distribution starts in Fort Bend County and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular news from the past week from the Houston area.

One local health system leader said he expects everyone, including those under age 65, will have access to the vaccine within the next 90 days. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston-area health system leaders talk progress, hurdles during COVID-19

Officials from CHI St. Luke’s Health and UTMB Health said community members must remain vigilant as case counts climb but that they expect the current surge to peak by early February.

During a North Houston Association meeting Jan. 20, Jazz Hamilton—first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services Group for CBRE—discussed how the future of retail will likely be shaped by the conveniences to which consumers have become accustomed amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pandemic-induced retail conveniences are here to stay, official says

According to Jazz Hamilton, first vice president with the Retail Brokerage Services group for CBRE, between January and November of 2020, consumers spent almost $550 billion online—a 33% increase from 2019.

The estimated number of active COVID-19 cases in Harris County has surpassed 50,000, reaching 51,362 as of the most recent data Jan. 20, according to the Harris County Public Health Department. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Active cases top 50,000

See the latest trends on COVID-19 in Harris County.