The bids are in, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Galveston District has awarded the dredging contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock to remove sediment and debris from a stretch of the West Fork of the San Jacinto River.
The corps oversee river and harbor improvements and is implementing the emergency dredging project, tasked and funded by FEMA, which responded to a request from the State of Texas under provisions of the Stafford Disaster Relief Act of 1988.
The project will involve the removal of 1.8 million cubic yards of material and is expected to take about 270 days to complete at a cost of $69 million.
Bid openings were originally scheduled for May 29 but the corps had to extend the bid opening to June 22 when forecasters doubled their estimates of the amount of debris in the river -- from 748,000 cubic yards to 1.8 million. The project duration was then changed from 180 to 270 days to accommodate the increase in debris.
In April, a corps team from the New Orleans District began collecting data to determine the level of silt accumulation and shoaling in the West Fork.
After the June 22 bid opened, three bids were received: CrowderGulf submitted a bid in the amount of $108 million, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company for $69 million, and RLB Contracting for $33 million.
When there is such a wide variation in bid amounts, the government is required by law to initiate a mandatory review to ensure each bidder is properly prepared to meet the schedule and equipped to do all the work. Low bidder RLB Contracting from Port Lavaca was deemed “non-responsive” and the next lowest bidder, Great Lakes, was awarded the contract.
While very important, the dredging project does not include operations beyond the San Jacinto West Fork. FEMA’s funding scope also restores the river to pre-Harvey conditions -- nothing further. Kingwood residents are glad to see that the bid has been awarded and that dredging will soon begin, but say there is so much more that needs to be done as the one-year anniversary of Harvey approaches.
To cover some of those other projects, Harris County will present voters with a bond program that amounts to $2.5 billion. The Harris County Flood Control District has been compiling a list of potential projects that could be part of the bond measure. Judge Ed Emmett has previously said that the number of projects would be in the hundreds, and would likely include numerous creek widening projects and a possible third reservoir in Northwest Houston.
The flood district has also been obtaining input from Harris County residents by holding 23 public meetings to discuss the bond projects. The 23 meetings correspond to the 23 watersheds in Harris County.
One such meeting was held on July 10 at Kingwood Park High School. District employees were on hand to show area maps regarding all the proposed projects being considered for the bond. Residents were encouraged to submit suggestions regarding area projects to solve drainage infrastructure issues, water conveyance and other issues. One such proposed project would be funding a study to determine the real floodplain maps in the region.
Flood district Director of Operations Matt Zeve encouraged Kingwood residents to submit suggestions. “Before tonight, we’ve held 14 of these meetings and have received over 1,000 comments. We’re working our way through them to take all suggestions for the bond,” Zeve said. He encouraged residents to view Kingwood information on the flood district website at hcfcd.org/hurricane-harvey/kingwood-information.
Members of the Lake Houston Area Grassroots Flood Prevention Initiative showed up in droves to help the community at the meeting. The group is helping to promote the Lake Houston Area Chamber’s PleaforDDG campaign. DDG stands for dredging, detention and gates. Bob Rehak and Dianne Lansden have been instrumental in the grassroots initiative. Rehak says that when it comes to DDG, we need all three. “Detention means we get less water in Kingwood, dredging means more water throughout, and the gates mean water goes out faster,” Rehak said. Landsen said the overarching comment she heard from residents at the meeting was, “When are we going to get those extra gates on Lake Houston?”
Grassroots volunteers were on hand as well to remind residents that they must have a current voter registration in order to vote in the Aug. 25 bond. Residents are reminded to check their voter status at HarrisVotes.com before the end of July 26, the deadline to make any address changes.