Work to begin soon on new detention pond
The contract to construct a massive new detention pond in the area is expected to go out for bid sometime next month, according to Harris County Flood Control District Project Manager A. Gene Rushing Jr., who spoke at a Super Neighborhood 80 community meeting Tuesday, April 15.
Referred to as the Mud Gully Stormwater Detention Basin (A520-03-00-E001), the 174-acre site will be located in the area that once housed the South Bend subdivision. Soil sampling conducted by both Harris County and the Brio Site Task Force have determined the once-hazardous site is now safe.
Once complete, the pond will hold up to 1,250 acre/feet or 407 million gallons of stormwater.
Although the detention facility had been proposed more than 20 years ago, it wasn’t until a July 2009 meeting sponsored by then-Houston City Council Member Mike Sullivan that county officials decided to take action. At the meeting, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the earliest they could make drainage improvements to Clear Creek would be in 13 to 15 years.
The Corps has been studying the Clear Creek Project since 1968 at a cost of more than $35 million. Corps officials at the 2009 meeting further said any future work on Clear Creek would likely require a new congressional authorization and additional funding, due to its change in scope over the last five decades.
Following the 2009 meeting, Harris County officials, with strong support from Precinct 1 Commissioner El Franco Lee, began the process of acquiring the necessary land. The deal was finalized in October 2010.
Construction of the detention pond will be broken down into three phases, with Phase I scheduled to go to Commissioners Court on Tuesday, May 6, for authorization.
Rushing said he expects actual construction of Phase I to begin between July and September and take approximately 1.5 years to complete. The project manager further said the funds are already available for the design portion of Phase II and that he hopes construction on it will begin as soon as the first phase is complete.
While officials at the Tuesday meeting gave no specific time frame for Phase III, the entire project is estimated to take seven years to complete.
Galveston County officials have agreed to contribute up to $10 million to the project, as it will also benefit them by detaining water that currently drains to Clear Creek.
Construction costs of Phase I are estimated at roughly $5 million.
Flood control officials are also moving forward with a concurrent plan to improve the Mud Gully Channel (A120-00-00-C003) from Sagerock to Astoria Boulevard.
Part of the district’s 2015-2016 Capital Improvement Program, plans call for lining the bottom of the channel with concrete with a bottom width of 45 feet.
While current plans involve working jointly with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the endeavor, Rushing said the county could likely secure the necessary funds to go it alone if needed to expedite the project.
In a joint news conference held Thursday, April 10, at the Rice University Space Institute, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the Houston Airport System (HAS) announced plans to explore potential applications and multiple economic development opportunities presented by the combination of a Houston-based spaceport and SNC’s Dream Chaser – a spacecraft that can land at the spaceport directly from low-Earth orbit.
SNC and HAS signed a letter of intent to work together to explore the possibilities associated with the proposed Houston Spaceport including a wide range of educational, technological, scientific and business capacities. As part of the cooperative initiative, the organizations will study the physical, operational and regulatory requirements for SNC’s commercial space vehicle, Dream Chaser, to utilize the spaceport as one of its potential landing sites. This effort will contribute to defining a long range strategy for the diversification and development of a vibrant commercial space industry in Texas, serving the needs of government, science and commercial applications.
“Houston has been a cornerstone of America’s space program and remains vital for its future. Dream Chaser’s ability to land on a commercial runway such as Ellington offers, for the first time, a realistic path for America’s space program to return and be seen locally by the thousands of people who make space happen every day in Houston and give tribute to the generations that have made us the leaders in exploration,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “As importantly, we can reach out to the young people of the region who will take us to the future and get them to experience in person the passion of our nation’s space program so that they might be inspired as we were. With the unique combination of NASA, the local aerospace industry, many of whom are already partnered on our program and academic institutions such as Rice University, combined with the potential of a future spaceport, Houston’s future in space commerce is a go.”
“Houston has unique advantages over other emerging spaceport locations with significant access to an existing, robust aerospace community,” said City of Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. “This letter of intent will allow us to effectively assess and define the new markets and applications that could emerge from having a Houston-based portal to space, which in turn will drive enterprise, economic growth and prosperity in this area.”
SNC is working with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop a safe, innovative, modern, flexible and highly capable crew transportation system for the 21st century. Dream Chaser provides the only reusable, human-rated lifting-body spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world and is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit. Dream Chaser is a multi-mission capable spacecraft which has the ability to work as an independent science platform, or as a logistics vehicle to retrieve, move, assemble or deploy items in space.
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