Lynchburg Ferry Hurricane Harvey Emergency Repair

Lynchburg Ferry is a system located in Baytown, Texas moving vehicles and pedestrians across the Houston ship channel. It has been operated by Harris County (HC) Precinct 2 continuously since 1888. In July 2017, LJA signed a contract with HC Precinct 2 and the Harris County Engineering Department (HCED) to provide Phase I pre-design engineering services for the repair and upgrading of the Lynchburg Ferry facility.

LJA was tasked to investigate rehabilitation/reconstruction options of the ferry terminal structures to meet available budget allocated through the Federal Ferry Boat Program.

A few weeks into the project (August 25–30), Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area with unprecedented record rainfall. The high volume and velocity of water coming through the project site had significant impact to the facility. Recorded scour on the North Landing, located the closest to the San Jacinto River, exceeded 25FT with water flow velocities in excess of 11 ft/sec. Following the event, HC Precinct 2 and HCED inspected the facility and found several damages, specifically on the water infrastructure (collapse of some structures and structural instability of others).

The LJA team was lead by Dan Copps and composed of eight PEs, two EITs, and two CAD designers, all from three different LJA divisions (Transportation, Midstream, and Coastal) and located in three different offices. This team only had four days to prepare a mock “bid” repair package. Contractors then had three days to prepare their bid, and LJA had one day to review and make award recommendations for the emergency repairs.

The contract was awarded to Russel Marine on October 9. The detailed design that followed the preliminary design had several challenges to overcome. Most important was the hard completion deadline for the project. Intermediate deadlines were built into the contractor’s contract that required LJA to release smaller design packages on specific milestone dates. Designs that required procurement of long lead items were completed first.

At every step, LJA investigated availability of materials specified in the design, always trying to incorporate items with short lead times. Special details were developed that reduced the required construction time. LJA collaborated closely with the contractor and steel fabricator (King Fabrication) to identify areas that could result in time savings on construction, material procurement, coatings, and fabrication. A 24 hour turnaround on RFI and shop drawing review was maintained by LJA throughout the project.

In addition to time constraints, all works could not be considered a “betterment” of the infrastructure in order to remain eligible for FHWA reimbursement. LJA worked closely with HC Precinct 2, HCED, and FHWA to go through design details and material specification to assure work followed standards of practice acceptable by FHWA.

LJA’s Construction Services provided full-time inspection in combination with the Construction Management arm of Harris County Toll Road Authority to handle oversight of this fast-track project. This included monitoring the project and providing feedback to engineering staff of issues and modifications required in the field. Pile driving caused some soil settlement of the site, requiring a monitoring program to ensure no permanent damage occurred to surrounding structures. Weekly progress meetings were required with HC Precinct 2, HCED, HCTRA, TxDOT, FHWA, and Russel Marine to ensure the project was on schedule and followed the necessary requirements of the Disaster Relief Program. The project was successfully completed on February 14 and the ferry re-opened to the public on March 3. LJA is programmed to perform Phase II design of the project using the original grant funding.

Contact by Dan Copps, PE, Vice President for more information.