Speaking last week at the North Channel Chamber luncheon, Pct. 2 Commissioner Jack Morman discussed the ravages resulting from the floods after Hurricane Harvey, and a large range of projects that will be built in the next few years in East Harris County to keep pace with the population growth.
Morman called it an Historic Flood, noting that in the past five years there have been three flood events in the county that exceeded the 100 year flood plans. In the county, over 30,000 homes were flooded, he said. Resources to help people were overwhelmed, and the county had to ask for the help of the general public for boats and evacuation rescues. He noted that Pct. 2 dump trucks were used as first responder emergency vehicles due to their high ground clearance.
Pct.2 is now in the recovery phase. A total of 260,000 cubic yards of debris have been picked up and hauled away. The Lynchburg Ferry, closed due to damage to both landings, is being repaired and scheduled to re-open in March.
To alleviate future damage from floods, the county is implementing new regulations calling for buildings to be elevated higher. Home buyouts have also occurred, and will continue. So far $20,000,000 has been allocated for this, and 21 homes have been purchased to date.
The county has requested funds from the federal government of $10 Billion dollars for new projects, but so far the money has not been appropriated. The county is planning on a bond issue in the fall, asking voters for 1 or 2 Billion dollars for Flood Control projects.
A major improvement in flood control is now being built, known as the Lauder Retention Basin in the Aldine area. This will alleviate flooding in Greens Major highway projects planned or under construction include a new Beltway 8 bridge over the ship channel, with 8 lanes and shoulders, and widening of the East Belt (E. Sam Houston Parkway) to 8 lanes and shoulders. These projects are underway, and completion is scheduled for 2022.
Another important project is an overpass on Federal Road, over the PTRR tracks. This $20 million dollar project is expected to take 2 years to build, and will alleviate delays for traffic headed to the Washburn Tunnel and Galena Park.
A widening of the Crosby-Lynchburg Road is planned from Barrett Station to Highlands, to be completed in four phases. Phase 3 is south of Barrett is currently under construction, and will cost $12 million. The final complete to Highlands will follow, at a cost of $20 million.
Morman said that his office also has improvements planned in two major parks in the precinct, Juan Seguin Park near the San Jacinto Monument, and Riley Chambers Park in Barrett, which will get a new ball park and other improvements.
Morman noted that the EPA had made a Final Decision, to remove the toxic material in the Waste Pits along the San Jacinto River. He praised this action, saying it reflected the wishes of most of the communities nearby, and was the safest and most complete choice. It also is the most favorable if the possibility of Hurricane surges is considered. The removal will take about 2 and + years, and will not start until legal and engineering work is completed in the next year.
Ending on a positive note, Morman said he expected 2018 to be a better year, hopefully without hurricanes, floods, and toxic waste pits.