Hunting Bayou Channel Improvements

Houston, TX

Hunting Bayou Channel Improvements

Owner: Harris County
Civil Engineer: BGE, Inc.

Project Team

Following the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, the Harris County Flood Control District initiated numerous flood damage reduction projects as part of its ongoing Capital Improvement Program (CIP), Operations and Maintenance and 2018 Bond Program. The Channel Improvements portion awarded to SpawGlass-Civil is a two-and-a-half mile stretch of the Hunting Bayou watershed, where rainfall within 31 square miles drains to the primary waterway. Led by Civil-Houston Project Manager Katie Hogan, the floodplain of the area was lowered by removing 375,000 cubic yards of dirt from the site to deepen and widen the channel. Ramps and trails were added along with riprap, a type of concrete rubble, and six retaining walls to fortify the channel and prevent erosion.

Working in an area with constantly flowing water that rises during rainfall proved to be a challenging element for the project team. Major storms set back completed areas requiring rework and water management and impacted the ability of the dirt removal trucks to access the site. Katie commented that, in civil construction, the project never gets dried-in like commercial construction, so weather is an ongoing issue to manage. Despite 132 weather days endured, the team persevered and created solutions to continue moving forward.

When working in areas below the water table, the team learned the value of utilizing cementstabilized sand, which holds and will not wash out like dirt. Putting in low-flow crossings allowed equipment to cross from one side of the bayou to the other more efficiently.

A major success to the project involved building berms to divert the water while completing work under the bridges. As the water pooled up to one side, the team could work under the bridges and then switch the berm to complete the other side.

While constantly working in a bayou environment presented no shortage of challenges and learning opportunities, the project team always managed to adapt and problem-solve. The outstanding ability of the team to live teamwork throughout this project was evident. “Our team has worked in the heat, the pouring rain and freezing cold temperatures,” said Katie. “No matter the conditions, I watched them show up every day with a great attitude and get the work done.”

While passersby may not be able to fully appreciate the magnitude of the hard work that has gone into the project, the end result to the Harris County community is undeniable. The widened channel is an invaluable asset to the mitigation of flood risks in the area and the safety of its residents.

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