Jefferson Co. could lose millions in grant funding

Jefferson County


Jefferson County held a workshop Monday, July 29, to discuss about $2 million worth of Round 1 TRDA Grant funds administered by The General Land Office of the state of Texas. The funds are allocated to use for storm water drainage improvements in Drainage District 7, which covers an area of 107.42 square miles and encompasses the cities of Port Arthur, Groves, Nederland and Port Neches and unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. 

According to a report by Tolunay-Wong Engineers Inc. to Carroll & Blackman Inc., the company consulting with Jefferson County on the Main B diversion project, the project consists of constructing an overshot gate structure on a new diversion canal at the Main B Canal in Port Arthur. The gate structure and diversion canal will be used to channel water from the Main B Canal to Golden Pond Detention Pond Facility approximately 1,250 feet southwest of the project site. The diversion canal will pass under a new steel bridge structure and a 20-foot wide concrete roadway prior to entering the proposed gate structure and Main B Canal. 

“The Main B Diversion really helps Port Arthur more than it does anyone else because it reduces the load of storm water that goes down to Port Arthur,” said Allen Sims, vice president of Carroll & Blackman Inc. “It helps upstream some but it really helps downstream.” 

The county has received bids on DD7 Main B Lateral and Diversion, but the bids the county has received for the project have been too high, Judge Jeff Branick said. 

Branick also said the county has until Dec. 31, 2015, to finish the project or it will lose the funding. 

The project bid in at around $8 million, but the county only has around $3.6 million left in funding for the Main B Diversion project to add to the $2 million grant from the state. 

Relocation of three pipelines, two gas lines and a petroleum line, were discussed and estimated to cost $1 million each for relocation and would take up to a year to relocate. 

If the county cannot find a bid that’s within range of the funds available, including the $2 million, and if the project is not completed by Dec. 31, 2015, Jefferson County will lose the grant funding. If the county planned to complete the project after that, it would have to fully pay for the project from county funds. 

“We need to get those prices for moving those pipelines like … yesterday. We don’t want to lose the money. We don’t want to lose a good project,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Brent Weaver. 

The Drainage District 7 Board plans to further discuss the cost of relocating pipelines and return to Jefferson County Commissioners Court in around two weeks for another workshop