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White Oak Bayou Federal Flood Damage Reduction in Houston, Texas
Originating in northwest Harris County, White Oak Bayou is a major waterway that winds southeast, joining Buffalo Bayou at Downtown Houston’s historic Allen’s Landing. In the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improved the bayou as a flood control measure — drainage performance being critical to protecting Houston during heavy rain events. After the historical deluge of Hurricane Harvey, client CobbFendley needed us to develop slope recommendations in a cost-efficient way. Working on behalf of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), they asked if we could utilize some of the previously drilled borings and technical reports and come up with the optimum number of borings to complete the project.
Our initial task was to determine the optimum number of soil borings for successful project completion and recommend any modifications to ensure the safe functioning of the bayou going forward. A key consideration was how to best utilize the available budget to evaluate the stability of the regraded channel slopes.
To perform the work efficiently we needed to leverage as much existing data as possible without missing previously undocumented problems. We were also asked to identify the slope configuration that would meet HCFCD safety requirements.
After reviewing existing geotechnical reports, we proposed a lower-cost option that minimized the number of borings and also evaluated the excavated material for reuse instead of importing select fill material so that the project could be completed within a reasonable budget. We conducted a geotechnical investigation on-site and evaluated the regraded slopes to meet the minimum required safety factors. Our analysis revealed:
Our engineers also identified problems that fell outside of our proposed scope of work during our site visit.
Applying HVJ’s extensive erosion experience, our project team informed CobbFendley of these concerns and recommended a number of cost-effective ways to address them, including:
By understanding these issues in advance, we helped CobbFendley plan ahead without derailing budgets or schedules.
HCFCD is set to confirm all governmental stakeholder organizations. Now armed with a more comprehensive set of potential failure issues, project steps, and recommendations, they hope to more quickly acquire the funding needed for the restoration of White Oak Bayou.
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