Bay Area drainage projects advancing

It has been almost one year since Harris County voters approved a $2.5 billion bond to address drainage issues and two months since League City voters approved spending $73 million on local flooding problems. Projects are under design in both Clear Lake and League City, but it could be years before residents see relief.

In the Clear Lake area, workers are completing the second of three phases of a 174-acre stormwater detention basin along Mud Gully just west of the intersection of Beamer and Dixie Farm roads, said Alan Black, the director of operations for the Harris County Flood Control District. The project, budgeted at $16 million, is designed to hold 505 million gallons of water to mitigate area flooding.

The area’s biggest project, which was first proposed in the 1980s and has yet to start, is $295 million worth of channel improvements to Clear Creek. The HCFCD and its federal partner, the Army Corps of Engineers, will oversee about 15 miles of improvements to the channel from Dixie Farm Road to Hwy. 288 and 5 miles of improvements to Clear Creek’s tributaries, Black said. When complete, an estimated 2,100 properties will see flooding relief.

The HCFCD in April began selectively clearing trees and invasive species along Clear Creek, in part to prepare for the Corps’ massive channel improvements project, Black said.

Many projects have not begun because they are still in design or require right of way. The average life cycle for HCFCD projects is three to five years, Black said.

“The big number is that we ... have 146 projects currently underway in some form or fashion,” he said.

Those projects will cost an estimated $2.19 billion. While voters passed a $2.5 billion bond, HCFCD officials hope they can stretch their dollars and find partnership funding to complete up to $5 billion worth of projects, Black said.

“We’re well on our way,” he said. “We still have a long way to go.”

Meanwhile, smaller-scale League City projects are starting up.

League City City Council on May 28 unanimously approved three separate agenda items to begin design work on drainage projects in different subdivisions.

Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam will design flood mitigation projects in the Oaks of Clear Creek neighborhood for no more than $250,000; Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. will design projects to improve drainage in the Bay Colony and Dove Meadows neighborhoods for no more than $255,500; and LJA Engineering will design drainage projects in the Bay Ridge neighborhood for $260,500 or less, according to city documents.

The projects are three of the 21 the $73 million worth of bonds will fund. The city started with these three because they are the least likely of all the projects to receive grant funding, League City Engineering Director Chris Sims said.

“We’re hopeful we can get $20 million worth of grants,” City Manager John Baumgartner said.

The Oaks of Clear Creek project will include improving the in-ground stormwater system and widening a nearby ditch to eliminate street ponding during heavy rains.

“You can’t get down the street in a conventional car,” Baumgartner said.

The Bay Colony and Dove Meadows project will include creating a 115-acre detention basin. The Bay Ridge project will be a combination of solutions, city officials said.

The Oaks of Clear Creek project is expected to be done in 30 months because it requires land acquisition. The Bay Colony and Dove Meadows project will be done in three years because it requires acquiring land and Corps permits.

“It’s a significant time crunch there,” Sims said. “It adds up.”

The Bay Ridge work is expected to be complete in 16 months because it requires neither, officials said.

“We try to provide an appropriate expectation to the community,” Baumgartner said.

Bay Ridge resident Marika Fuller said during public comment she would like to see projects done quicker.

“Let’s give them a little bit of a time crunch,” she said. “If we’re gonna give them $250,000, they better deliver, and they better deliver fast.”

Some council members said they agreed the lengths for design and construction for some projects were too long.

“The timetables have got to be condensed down to as quick as you can get them done,” Mayor Pat Hallisey said.

Staff plans within weeks to put together a master timeline for all 21 drainage projects included in the bonds.
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

Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center was rated the No. 1 hospital in Houston by the Massachusetts-based Lown Institute. (Ben Thompson/ Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann Health System hospitals rank in top 10 in the nation

Six of the top 10 hospitals in the Houston area are part of the Memorial Hermann Health System.

In-person appointments for driver license renewal and replacement are now being offered at driver license offices across the state. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas driver license offices reopen for in-person renewal, replacement services

The second phase of reopening announced July 7 expanded services offered at driver license offices.

New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New U.S. guidelines require exchange students to take in-person classes this fall

The guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas.

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas students given access to thousands of books, news articles for summer reading through TEA partnership

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish.

The State Fair of Texas is expected to return in 2021. (Courtesy Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)
State Fair of Texas cancels 2020 season

This is the eighth time in the fair’s 134-year history that the event has been called off.

Houston, League City police departments changing in wake of George Floyd’s death

A late-May video of native Houstonian George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody spurred nationwide protests such as the one in Houston and a few in League City and the Bay Area seeking justice and police reform.

(Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Galveston County sees nearly 600 new cases over holiday weekend

Galveston County saw nearly 600 new cases of COVID-19 over the Fourth of July weekend.

COVID-19 patients now make up an estimated 43.4% of ICU patients in Harris County hospitals, up from 38.1% on July 3 and 25.5% on June 22.
As Harris County hospitalizations rise, COVID-19 patients now take up more than 40% of ICU beds

COVID-19 patients now make up an estimated 43.4% of ICU patients in Harris County hospitals, up from 38.1% on July 3 and 25.5% on June 22.

About 6,000 people are expected to attend the Texas Republican Convention at the  George R. Brown Convention Center on July 16-18. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Mayor Turner calls for cancelation, precautions ahead of Texas Republican Convention

The event is expected to draw 6,000 attendees to Houston's George R. Brown Convention Center.

Early voting is underway in Harris County. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
DATA: More than 80,000 Harris County residents cast ballots in the first week of early voting

Early voting for the July 14 primary runoff election began June 29 after Gov. Greg Abbott postponed the original date due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pharmacist Emily Smith opens a cooler for a patient to place their self-swab coronavirus test at a Walmart drive-thru testing site in McKinney on June 29. (Shelby Tauber/The Texas Tribune)
Poll says Texans' hopes for quick return to pre-coronavirus life are fading

Texans remain focused on the coronavirus pandemic and are less optimistic about returning the state to normal quickly, according to polling by the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas.

police, police officer, police car, stock police image photo
All but 1 Kemah officer tests negative for COVID-19; police return to work

After a mild scare, most of the 12-member police department in Kemah has tested negative for COVID-19 and returned to normal patrols, Chief Walter Gant said.