The long-awaited Northpark Drive overpass project in Kingwood is nearing final approval, and officials from the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority said they are aiming for a summer groundbreaking.

The $52 million project will expand the road from four to six lanes between Hwy. 59 and Russell Palmer Road and add an overpass over the Union Pacific Corp. railroad.

At the March 11 LHRA board of directors meeting, LHRA Board Chair Stan Sarman said the authority is slowly completing right of way acquisitions for the properties along the project.

"We're getting close to closing on several [parcels] besides the three that we have now," he said. "So everything is moving along slowly but surely."

HNTB Corp., the firm hired to design and engineer the project, will submit the project to the city of Houston for final approval in April, said Vincent Obregon, HTNB Corp. associate vice president. After that, he said, the LHRA may publish the final design for the Northpark Drive overpass project to the LHRA website as a PDF document.

The project will likely go to bid May 25, be awarded to a contractor in June and break ground soon thereafter, possibly in July.

Additionally, the design phase has begun for the eastern section of the effort to expand Northpark Drive: the Northpark Drive reconstruction project. That $48.4 million effort, set to begin in 2023, will include expanding the road from four to six lanes between Russell Palmer Road and Woodland Hills Drive.

The LHRA board of directors unanimously approved spending $262,000 to hire McKim & Creed, an engineering and survey firm, to perform a typography and easement survey for the design of the Northpark Drive reconstruction project. HNTB Corp. is also working with the Texas Department of Transportation to ensure the designs meet the department's criteria, Obregon said.

Sarman said he is looking forward to meeting with consultants in late March to discuss the overall design plan for the reconstruction project.

"I want to reiterate to our consultants ... the critical nature of Northpark Drive being passable during extreme events, and where Bens Branch crosses Northpark Drive is going to be a critical design right there," he said. "So we have to make sure that this works."