Monday afternoon a barge, being pushed by a tug boat, the Lindberg Crosby, hit a support pier under the I-10 highway, severely damaging it.
TxDOT was forced to close the westbound lanes of the highway, until they could ascertain the extent of the damage. This caused a severe traffic jam from Highlands clear to the far side of Baytown. In addition, the entry ramp westbound at Four Corners was closed, and traffic backed up on all the side roads clear to Crosby. Some motorists headed north, to US90, but delays of over an hour were reported.
The Coast Guard told this newspaper that an investigation was underway, but did not have details on the cause of the collision at this time. Aerial photos on TV news showed the barge and a tug boat standing by just south of the highway.
CROSBY – As TxDOT prepares for the reconstruction and widening of FM 2100 from South Diamondhead Blvd. to Antelope Dr. to be bid for construction in March, changes are coming for local businesses and the community.
The entire length of the project is subject to temporary road closures to allow construction and maintain safety of the traveling public. Notification of closures and a detour route is to be provided for use while closed. When construction begins TxDOT and the contractors are to coordinate with the County and local agencies on specific dates of each closure.
TxDOT does not know at this time when or where contractors will elect to begin construction.
A detour layout and title sheet has been provided by TxDOT to officials for questions. When construction starts, the TxDOT Area office and the Public Information Office will coordinate to provide advance notice of closures at intersection with side streets. All project related closures will be posted on the Houston Transtar website.
NORTHEAST HARRIS COUNTY – Modern politics has certainly discovered that a tension exist between bustling business, construction and environmental concerns. No one wants jobs to go away or to be poisoned.
Anyone can bet that concrete is necessary for construction. Sand is necessary for concrete. The Greater Houston Area is burgeoning, trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey. A tension has emerged with questions of ‘did digging for sand along the San Jacinto help flood the unincorporated areas during Hurricane Harvey?’
In northeast Harris County sand has become one of the largest industries locally. Nationwide it accounts for nearly $8.billion dollars.
In Austin, the Texas Legislature, typically a business friendly bunch, is looking into what needs to be done about mining sand. One proposed law would call for a new inspections program and require a hydrology assessment for permits to mine. This new law would make it a crime to lie about records and activities. Republican Governor Greg Abbott asked state regulators to more closely monitor and back up existing rules in sand mining.
The Harris County Flood District is planning to look more closely at the industry and practices.
Those that lost their homes in Hurricane Harvey have asked if larger amounts of sand that settled down the river contributed to making the outcome of the storm worse on those living on the river.
HIGHLANDS – Since the beginning of the year, the San Jacinto River Coalition, part of THEA, has held two public meetings to update everyone on developments around the Waste Pits site.
The clean-up itself is in the Remedial Design phase, with the work plan approved. EPA and the PRP are actually working on Pre-Design Phase I, which can be seen on the EPA website. Phase II will be posted by Feb. 12, she said, and will continue through July. Young expected work to remove the waste material could start by the end of 2019.
Young said that the PRP had hired a new consulting firm, GHD Consultants, with experience in this type of Superfund site. They will be helping prepare the work plan and Remedial Action plan. Maintenance of the current Cap is under the direction of another engineering firm, Anchor QEA & Integral.
Sampling of the current material under the cap is taking place, to categorize the degree of hazardous material, and decide where to dispose of it. On site, core samples can be seen in drums, and water level samples in red storage tanks. These will be sent to a lab for testing.
Young criticized the sampling effort, noting that they are not testing for PCBs. “We really don’t understand what is the composition of this waste,” she said. She also questioned whether workers on the site had adequate environmental protection gear, and whether samples taken were protected from tampering or alteration.
Since December, SJRC has been working with residents to oppose a dredging permit that would remove sediment from a shoreline area just west of the Waste Pits, and send it to a landfill in Beach City. With the help of Congressman Brian Babin, and a concerted effort of petitions and letters, the coalition has been able to get a reprieve from the project and its environmental dangers.