The $18 million was originally earmarked for the expansion of Kingwood Drive to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Woodland Hills Drive on the city's 2018 Capital Improvement Plan.
The funds will now be used to expand Northpark Drive from four to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Woodlands Hills Drive next year, said Jessica Beemer, North Sector Manager for the office of Houston City Council Member Dave Martin. Shifting city funding to Northpark Drive's expansion could be approved by the city council before the end of the year.
"Mayor [Turner] realized that we have an issue back here," Martin said. "It's mobility. It's safety getting from the back of Kingwood to the front and vice versa in the afternoon. He heard me, he understood me and he made a decision that is in the best interest of Kingwood residents."
The influx of cash could push the timeline for the project up. It is now slated to begin construction in 2020, said Stan Sarmam, chairman of Kingwood Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10 and the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority.
It would also provide the flexibility to complete the expansion in two phases, he said.
"We could split the project into two phases, with the first phase between [Hwy.] 59 and the railroad tracks," Sarman said. "We could use city money and sell bonds for the first phase and use federal funding for the second phase."
With or without funding from the city of Houston, the TIRZ board and LHRA continues to seek federal funding to help cover the construction of the expansion, Sarman said.
The TIRZ is seeking a spot on the H-GAC’s Call for Projects shortlist for Northpark Drive, which will help the project secure funding from the federal government. A infrastructure project in the region can receive federal funding after it is selected for the Call For Projects, Sarman said.