Notes: PA drainage projects near FEMA approval; Bowers lot help scheduled, more

Published 12:18 am Thursday, January 30, 2020

Port Arthur engineers are awaiting approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for drainage construction to begin in four locations.

The city has been approved Phase I money from FEMA to do work at the Lake Arthur Detention Area, Babe Zaharias Municipal Golf Course, El Vista subdivision and Port Acres subdivision.

The planning for these projects began after Hurricane Harvey hammered the city in August 2017.

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Public Works and Engineering director Alberto Elefaño said the purpose of the construction is to help Port Arthur become more prepared in the event of a severe storm or hurricane. Council members authorized the city this week to enter into contracts with other engineering firms.

“They have between 270 and 300 days to do our engineering, and then from there, we’ll get our bids to get them constructed,” Elefaño said. “We’re approved Phase I monies. After we get all the designs done, we get FEMA to approve it for construction.”

City Manager Ron Burton said he didn’t have a timeline for construction, which would be the third and final phase for the projects. Phase II is the engineering and design.

“It’s a three-year project, but something could happen and they may extend it for three more months,” Burton said. “We’re more or less moving at their pace.”

Burton is working on contracts with Stuart Consulting Group of Houston for the Lake Arthur project at a design fee up to $700,800 and the Babe Zaharias project for up to $450,789. The city’s plan in these areas is to divert some of the floodwaters to detention areas and not flood Drainage District 7 canals.

“This will be able to get all the waters into those areas and slowly get the water into the canals,” Elefaño said.

Port Arthur engineering firm Arceneaux Wilson and Cole will be hired for the projects in El Vista and Port Acres at design fees up to $239,375 and $685,867, respectively. City engineers are planning to upgrade culverts in the subdivisions so that water gets to the canals faster, Elefaño said.

“It was a three-year process, and now we’re in the nitty-gritty,” he said. “We’re trying to get this approved so we can get it on board.”

Also approved at Monday’s city council meeting:

  • Flood elevation requirements will be waived to allow FEMA to temporarily provide manufactured homes, mobile housing units and recreational vehicles in floodplains and special flood hazard areas.
  • Jerry LeBove has been appointed to the Economic Development Corporation board of directors.
  • The city will contract with Greenscapes Six of Baytown for $249,140 to repair the parking lot at the Bob Bowers Civic Center. A current contract with Greenscapes Six is being increased by $20,452 to $1,232,035 to repair and restore Carolina Avenue north of Gulfway Drive.
  • Additional paving and drainage modifications at 8th Avenue from 32nd Street to the dead end will come at an additional cost of $23,092, increasing the contract amount with Excavation & Construction LLC of Port Arthur to $904,485. The same company is also working on replacing an existing water line as part of the Sunken Court reconstruction project from Twin City Highway to North Park Drive, increasing the total cost by $41,225.48 to $2,309,568.61.

The next city council meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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