Crews have been hard at work during the first days of the District of Houston’s downtown revitalization project. (Angelique Houlihan photo)

Work underway at extensive downtown revitalization project

Work to last until the early fall

It’s an old expression but one that applies to the just-started downtown underground infrastructure and beautification project.

“I’ve been saying it’s short term pain for long term gain,” says project manager Eric Ormsby from Canyon Contracting Company, a subsidiary of Terus Construction. “Because that’s what it is. It’s going to be a great project.”

At a contract value of $3.274 million, including separate sidewalk work on Hwy16, crews last week began peeling away existing asphalt in preparation for replacing aging concrete water lines from Hwy16 down 9th through Poulton to Butler.

The first job of this phase is to determine the elevation and location of the old water line and its connections that will be replaced.

Experience has taught contractors that decades-old underground infrastructure may not be exactly located according to engineering plans drafted at the time, Ormsby explained.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit of guesswork, where they are,” he said.

The old line and connections will be replaced with PVC pipe, the standard nowadays for underground works.

In addition to the main water line and connections, there’ll also be some limited sewer works and new storm water catch basins.

As the project moves along, residents and property owners may also be wondering why crews will excavate one location, place pipe, cover it up and then excavate again in order to make connections to properties along the project route.

“It’s not just a matter of laying the pipe and covering it up,” said Ormsby. “The pressure needs to be tested, it has to be checked for bacteria at each stage.”

As the timeline now stands, the downtown project is scheduled to be finished in mid to late September.

Final work will include new sidewalks and lights aimed at increasing the walkability and attractiveness of 9th.

In dollar value, the project is the largest and most visible one to be undertaken by the District of Houston in years, part of a longterm plan to not only modernize its underground civic works but to present an attractive downtown to encourage more investment and more residents.

It’s also the most significant project being undertaken this year by Canyon Contracting.

“For a general contract, this is an eight out of 10 for us. We’ve just finished a two-year project in Gitsegukla, a water project, that was larger in dollar value by about $1.5 million but this is Number One for us this year,” said Ormsby.

Canyon will be using its own crews from the area and locals will notice familiar subcontractors at various phases, including Westcana which has the contract for the street lighting portion of the project.

The Hwy16 sidewalk work, although separate it is an integral part of the District’s longterm improvement plan, will take place once 9th is completed.

Ormsby stressed that workers will try to minimize overall disruption to businesses and residents, adding that there will be traffic and detour controls in place.

And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents are asked to maintain the health guidance six-feet physical distancing between themselves and work crews.

“We’re going to our best to keep people informed,” said Ormsby, inviting people with questions to contact him at 150-231-4847 or via email at

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