Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority officials have set the record straight about the construction timeline for Kingwood's Northpark Drive overpass project. Designs for the $52 million project are nearing final approval, but the project will likely break ground in late 2021 rather than the summer ground breaking previously discussed.

Officials with HNTB Corp., the firm hired to design and engineer the project, presented an update on the project at the March 11 LHRA board of directors meeting. The 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 Loop 494.

During the March 11 meeting, Vincent Obregon, HTNB Corp. associate vice president, said the project would likely go to bid in May, be awarded to a contractor in June and could break ground in July. Obregon reiterated this timeline at the April 8 LHRA meeting, saying the project design will soon be submitted to the city of Houston for final approval.

However, LHRA Administrator Ralph De Leon leaned toward a more conservative project timeline, saying the district is still several steps away from bidding the project. Before the project can bid, the district must still acquire land for right of way, get approval from multiple entities on the project's design and close in June on a $48.2 million bond to fund the project, De Leon said.

"I think it’s important to give everybody, in these brief meetings that we have, all the information so they walk away with a good feel for where we're at in the process," he said.

More likely, the overpass project will bid in the second or third quarter of this year, with construction expected to begin by late 2021, De Leon said in a phone interview after the meeting. He said he wanted to “manage expectations” for how long these last steps could actually take to complete.

At Partnership Lake Houston's virtual Kingwood Bizcom event later on April 8, LHRA board Chair Stan Sarman talked about the effects the Northpark overpass project will have on the Kingwood community. He said construction will be phased so that two lanes of Northpark will remain open throughout the project.

Construction on the overpass project will take roughly 30-36 months, LHRA officials have said.

Additionally, Sarman said the $48.4 million Northpark reconstruction project, which is set to break ground in 2023, is being designed. The project—located east of the overpass project—will include expanding the road from four to six lanes between Russell Palmer Road and Woodland Hills Drive.

To better fund the overpass and reconstruction projects, the LHRA will delay the Mills Branch Drive reconstruction project and several intersection improvements on the district’s five-year capital improvement plan. The projects will be revisited in several years, De Leon said.

"Once we get past Northpark Drive, then everything will begin to fall back into full force and go on down the road with our prior set of projects," he said during the LHRA meeting. "To make these two sections fundable, we had to push those out."