The multimillion-dollar expansion of Northpark Drive pushes forward. Soon, Kingwood officials will begin seeking right of way acquisitions for properties along the heavily trafficked corridor. The Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the property tax revenue collected within Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10, held a meeting Sept. 26 to discuss the mobility project.

The Northpark Drive project will expand the road from four to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Woodland Hills Drive. Phase 1, set to start in 2020, spans from Hwy. 59 to Russell Palmer Road and will create an overpass at the Union Pacific Corp. railroad tracks. Phase 2, set to start in 2023, spans from Russell Palmer to Woodland Hills Drive.

At the previous board meeting Aug. 8, officials with the HNTB Corporation—the company hired to design and engineer the Northpark Drive project—presented a timeline with a construction bid date for Phase 1 of March 2021; this was when the board's original plan was to begin construction for Phase 1 in late 2020.

"I think that's way too long," board chairman Stan Starman said at the Aug. 8 meeting. "We've got to talk about trying to tighten this schedule up."

At the Sept. 26 board meeting, however, Vincent Obregon, associate vice president of HNTB Corporation, said the company now believes it will be able to reduce the project timeline by submitting design schematics to various entities, such as city of Houston and the Texas Department of Transportation, in unison.

"One of the things coming out of the meeting last month was we were trying to figure out ways to compress the schedule," Obregon said. "One of the ways we're going to compress that schedule and get ... it into construction—we're going to be doing those [schematics] in parallel."

HNTB planned to submit design schematics to TxDOT at the end of this week, Obregon said. He also said HNTB intended to meet with the city of Houston, and the company has been coordinating with the Union Pacific Corp.

Obregon also said the company's hydraulic engineers have begun establishing drainage patterns and developing hydrology for the project. The engineers will soon meet with the Harris County Flood Control District to make sure HNTB's work is in line with the HCFCD's ongoing drainage studies, he said.