Kingwood Area Mobility Study projects begin this summer

The expansion of Northpark Drive to six lanes could save travelers eight minutes per trip during peak commute times.

The expansion of Northpark Drive to six lanes could save travelers eight minutes per trip during peak commute times.


Two years after the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority completed the Kingwood Area Mobility Study, the first of six priority transportation projects identified will begin construction this summer in Kingwood.


The study concluded that intersection improvements should be the No. 1 priority for Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10—which collects a portion of Kingwood tax revenue to ignite development through infrastructure improvements.


The LHRA, a subsidiary of the TIRZ, will begin funding intersection improvements before shifting its focus toward the expansions of major thoroughfares, such as Northpark Drive, in 2019.


“When we finished the study, a lot of residents said they hoped the study was not put on a shelf somewhere,” said Stan Sarman, chairman of TIRZ 10 and the LHRA. “And we said ‘absolutely.’”



Improving Crossroads, Expansions



The TIRZ combined the first two intersections in need of improvement—West Lake Houston Parkway at Northpark Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway at Kings Crossing Drive—into one project that will go out for bids in June, Sarman said. Construction on the $1.2 million intersection improvements could begin in August, Sarman said.


The TIRZ will fund construction on two of the 11 identified intersection improvements every year, he said.


“The plan is, as we get money each year, to try and do one to three intersections in a fiscal year with the funds already available to the TIRZ,” Sarman said. “That way, the residents of Kingwood see the intersections they requested to be improved getting done.”


Northpark and Kingwood drives—the two major east-west thoroughfares in Kingwood—are currently over the capacity they were built for, causing gridlock during peak traffic times, Houston City Council Member Dave Martin said.


However, the city of Houston has focused its efforts toward the $60 million expansion of Northpark Drive from four lanes to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Woodland Hills Drive.


“We always thought we would attack Kingwood Drive first … but after community meetings, it was pretty clear that 50 percent of residents didn’t want to touch [Kingwood Drive] at all,” Martin said.


Phase I of the Northpark Drive project will begin at Hwy. 59 and include an overpass across Loop 494, Sarman said.


Construction is expected to begin during the fourth quarter of 2018 or the first quarter of 2019, he said. Phase I will be funded through  a $15.5 million contribution from the city of Houston and the TIRZ, which will incur debt that will be paid back through tax-increment funds.


The funds were earmarked for the Kingwood Drive expansion through the city’s 2018 Capital Improvement Plan. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner agreed to shift the $15.5 million originally earmarked for Kingwood Drive on Northpark Drive after several discussions and a road trip through Kingwood with Martin during rush hour, Martin said.


For the first time, funds will be allocated for a road outside the city; much of the Northpark Drive expansion is outside of Houston city limits.


“We had the city attorney look at it to see if [funding the Northpark Drive expansion] is a benefit to taxpayers of the city of Houston and a benefit to the residents of Kingwood,” Martin said.


The TIRZ is seeking a spot on the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s Transportation Improvement Program, which helps local entities compete for federal funds, for Phase II of the expansion.



Future Projects


The mobility study also called for a $60 million expansion of Kingwood Drive, which would include an overpass over Loop 494 as well as the expansion and extension of Woodland Hills Drive.


The expansion and extension of Woodland Hills Drive to Hamblen Road could provide an alternate entry and exit point and a third north-south thoroughfare for residents.  The TIRZ is planning to allocate $600,000 in its budget to study the project in 2018, Sarman said. The TIRZ budget will be voted on at the TIRZ board meeting in June, he said. 


However, once work is completed on Northpark Drive, officials will re-examine whether expanding major thoroughfares is still vital, Martin said.


“Let’s say we finish construction by 2021 on Northpark Drive,” Martin said. “Then you look at what mobility looks like and have another study done to see if the expansion of Kingwood Drive is necessary.”



MOST RECENT

The North Houston Highway Improvement Project proposes rerouting I-45 through the East End and Fifth Ward and expanding it through the Northside. (Nathan Colbert/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston-Galveston Area Council seeking feedback on I-45 project plans

Regional leaders are accepting feedback on which projects to fund alongside the I-45 overhaul.

New Caney ISD welcomed 600 students who were previously learning remotely to campus after fall break. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
About 600 New Caney ISD students switch to on-campus instruction at end of 9 weeks

As New Caney ISD returns to school after fall break, about 600 students have switched from remote learning to on campus, according to Executive Director of Instruction Kristi Shofner.

Mickey Deison speaks at a city event. (Courtesy Larry Foerster)
Community remembers legacy of Mickey Deison, former Conroe mayor and Montgomery County judge

“He did what was needed to be done, not for any self-glory,” Larry Foerster said.

Montgomery County's COVID-19 recoveries sit at 8,403, according to the county health department. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
See Montgomery County's weekly COVID-19 case count for Oct. 13-19

The county has made progress on its backlog of cases initially reported to the Texas Department of State Health Services by health care providers.

Whitewater Express Car Wash will open its 18th location in late October in Porter. (Courtesy Whitewater Express Car Wash)
Whitewater Express Car Wash to open in Porter

The Porter location will be the franchise's 18th.

Houston police
Houston will spend $4.1 million from CARES Act to rein in rising crime rate

Violent crime is up 11% in the city of Houston and there are six hot spots throughout the city that are seeing the most violent crime numbers.

Voters wait in line at a Cy-Fair polling location Oct. 16. (Danica Lloyd/Community Impact Newspaper)
Day 7 of early voting brings 91,000 in-person, mail voters in Harris County

Eleven days of early voting remain before the Nov. 3 general election.

Mayor Sylvester Turner and faith leaders
Houston coronavirus updates: Positivity rate hits 5%, places of worship get guidance for reopening

Churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are recommend to limit gatherings to 25%.