GLO removing sunken barges from San Jacinto River

Workers clean mud off barge that has been raised from underwater.
Workers clean mud off barge that has been raised from underwater.

By Carolyn Stone and Gilbert Hoffman

SAN JACINTO RIVER – Residents of the San Jacinto River Estates area along River Road, were surprised early in July to see excavation work barges lifting old sunken hulks of barges from the water along the waterfront.

This area is near the Superfund site, and also the area next to Riverside Inn where the Holtmar/TimTom company has been trying to install new barge mooring facilities.

Residents were concerned the cleanup was in preparation for the installation of the barge facility and the possible approval of the 03/04/21 Holtmar Letter of Permission from the Corps of Engineers.

However, closer inspection of the vessels and personnel performing the cleanup revealed they were from the TX GLO, or Texas General Land Office.

Residents say they are still concerned it may be related. Removal of the sunken vessels and other debris in the river would be a necessary step prior to construction of a barge facility in that area. Carolyn Stone reached out to Ana Hernandez’s office to hear if they had any information on why the GLO was in the proposed area for the barge facility removing the sunken vessels.

Several work barges, with cranes and other excavation equipment, are anchored along the bank near the San Jacinto River Estates neighborhood. They are removing sunken barges and other debris that impede the flow of the river and pose a hazard during flood conditions. Beyond the work barges can be seen the Riverside Inn, to the far left Meadowbrook Park, and to the far right the area for a proposed barge mooring facility. Work on that project has halted due to a question about whether it was properly permitted by the Corps of Engineers. (All photos courtesy of Greg Moss)

We informed Hernandez’s office of what was witnessed and the crew and vessels were identified as being from the GLO, but since Holtmar/TimTom had been trying to get USACE approval to construct a barge facility in that area we wanted clarification as to why the cleanup was being performed. If it was just a clean up of the San Jacinto River we wholeheartedly supported it, but if it was in conjunction with the installation of a barge facility or barge parking lot by any entity we strongly opposed it. Adriana Aguirre-Hernandez of Ana Hernandez office was interested in what we knew about the Holtmar/TimTom/Holt attempts to install barges in the area, the LOP, and the Riverside remodeling and planned re-opening, wanting the information we had so she could research it and to help her when she contacted the GLO.

Adriana learned that the cleanup was related to funding recently received by the GLO from the legislature for the removal of 20 identified sunken vessels which were impeding the waterflow. The GLO had just made it to our area to remove the identified vessels in our portion of the river. The cleanup was not related to the attempts by Holtmar/TimTom to install a barge facility.

Residents are continuing the discussion with Rep. Hernandez’s office to enlist her opposition and help in preventing the Holtmar/TimTom barge fcitlity or any other marine industry, barge facility, or barge parking lots in this area and other areas north of I-10 East. They have a detrimental effect on the residential neighborhood, and are a threat to buildings and the Waste Pits during flooding or hurricane events, as seen in the near past.

Two GLO contractor’s work barges, with cranes and excavators, lifting portions of sunken barges.