May 2018  


Harris County Flood Control District Removing Sediment from Four Channels that Drain into Federal Reservoirs

The Harris County Flood Control District began construction in March on a $13.3 million maintenance project removing accumulated sediment and making priority repairs on a portion of Horsepen Creek in the Addicks Reservoir watershed. Future sites in this pilot project include Langham Creek, Bear Creek and a Langham Creek tributary east of Bear Creek Village.
On Jan. 30, 2018, Harris County Commissioners Court awarded a $13.3 million construction contract to low bidder Lecon Inc. for this package of work, which is part of a larger effort to investigate the current condition and capacity of all channels for which the Flood Control District has property rights that flow into Addicks and Barker reservoirs. The goal of this investigation is to assess and repair impacts from recent flood events on channels that carry stormwater into the federal reservoirs from surrounding neighborhoods. (The reservoirs themselves are owned, operated and maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)
"These projects are badly needed to help mitigate future flooding in several parts of the county," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "Flood control is a complex problem that is the county's priority."
Construction began in mid-March on Horsepen Creek, formally identified as HCFCD Unit U106-00-00, from near Hamstead Park Drive to the reservoir, and is expected to take several months.
Other project sites that are moving toward construction this year:
  Final bid-ready construction plans are under review for the Bear Creek project site, HCFCD Unit U102-00-00 from Greenhouse Road to just inside the reservoir.
  The Langham Creek project site, HCFCD Unit U100-00-00, from State Highway 6 to the reservoir, is in design.
  The Flood Control District is coordinating with the Corps on a permit and other preliminary details in connection with the U107-00-00 project site, which is located on reservoir property near Hidden Springs Drive.
Part of the Flood Control District's overall maintenance program, this project follows the Tax Day 2016 and Hurricane Harvey storms, which sent record levels of sediment-laden stormwater through the channels leading into the federal reservoirs. Deposited sediment can impede stormwater outfalls and reduce the capacity of channels to carry stormwater. The contract calls for removal of approximately half a million cubic yards of sediment.
Recent storm events also caused severe erosion in many areas. More than $5 million of the pilot project is for 86,037 tons of rip rap and granular fill to repair damaged banks along Horsepen Creek, Bear Creek and the other channels in the pilot project.
Addicks and Barker reservoirs were built in west Harris County by the Corps after disastrous floods of 1929 and 1935. They are designed to temporarily hold back stormwater and prevent damages along Buffalo Bayou, downtown Houston and the Port of Houston. Most Flood Control District easements end at the limits of the federal-owned land.
Rainfall within the 138-square-mile Addicks Reservoir watershed drains along 159 miles of open waterways, including Langham Creek and its major tributaries, such as South Mayde Creek (U101-00-00), Bear Creek (U102-00-00) and Horsepen Creek (U106-00-00).
Rainfall within the 126-square-mile Barker Reservoir watershed drains along 47 miles of open streams, including Mason Creek (T101-00-00) and Upper Buffalo Bayou (T100-00-00).
Updates on the project are available on the Flood Control District website, Members of the public with questions or comments may call the Flood Control District's Project and Study Information Line at 713-684-4040, or email

The Texas Freight Mobility Plan

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, as the chairman of the Texas Freight Advisory Committee, worked with the Texas Department of Transportation to produce the state's first multimodal freight mobility plan in 2016. Texas was one of the first states to develop a statewide multimodal freight plan, and it was a major first step in defining the State Freight Network and identifying freight mobility challenges. The plan includes a series of recommended improvements that would enhance freight mobility and advance programs to facilitate efficient goods movement across the state.
"With one in 16 jobs in Texas directly supported by freight transportation, the importance of setting the right course for and investing in our state's freight mobility cannot be overstated," said Emmett.    
An updated Texas Freight Mobility Plan, completed in late 2017, complies with the newly adopted Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The plan designated the state multimodal freight network, which consists of key roadways, railroads, ports and waterways, airports and international border crossings. The completed plan outlined the key corridors across the state that are critical to the efficient and safe movement of goods and set priorities for future investment.
More than 2.2 billion tons of freight – 20 tons per household and 12,700 tons per business – moved within Texas in 2016. Much of that freight is moving to, from and within Harris County. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan includes a five-year freight investment strategy and identifies a number of projects (roadway, rail, ports and airport improvements) for implementation in the Harris County region.
This plan was formally adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission in November 2017 and approved by the Federal Highway Administration in March 2018.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a report in February 2018 that identified innovative state freight plans and highlighted best practices in developing a freight mobility plan in compliance with the FAST-Act requirements. The Texas Freight Mobility Plan was the highest ranked freight plan in the nation and was recognized for the effective "use of detailed commodity and freight flow data in developing its plan, as well as active engagement of its Freight Advisory Committee throughout the process."

There's a New Fire Marshal in Town

Harris County Commissioners Court appointed Chief Deputy Laurie L. Christensen as the county's new fire marshal on Mar. 27.
"I am honored to be appointed Harris County Fire Marshal and look forward to continuing to serve the residents of Harris County," said Christensen. "Ensuring the safety of the community from any fire loss is my No. 1 priority."
"Laurie Christensen has decades of experience, not only in the fire service, but also law enforcement," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. "She has been an integral part of the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office and Harris County government for many years, and we are excited for her appointment and confirmation."
Christensen is a graduate of Sam Houston State University and the University of Houston-Downtown with degrees in Criminal Justice and Masters of Science Criminal Justice Leadership and Management. She is a retired member of the Pasadena Volunteer Fire Department with over 25 years experience in emergency response, including 18 years as a chief officer. Prior to working at Harris County, Christensen was fire marshal in La Porte, TX.
The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office is responsible for fire prevention, education, control and investigation in the unincorporated areas of Harris County. Commissioners Court established the office on Jan. 1, 1974.