‘The Livable Forest’ may turn urban-jungle

By Bryan Kimbro

The future of Kingwood’s landscape is potentially destined for concrete instead of trees, Houston District E Council Member Dave Martin told residents at his Feb. 28 Capital Improvement Plan meeting at the Kingwood Community Center.

Based on traffic evaluation analysis along Kingwood Drive, public works and engineering officials with the city wrote in a CIP recommendation that an eight-lane solution is required to provide an acceptable level of service from Loop 494 to Woodland Hills Drive. The recommendation also states that a $31 million eight-lane thoroughfare would require the complete removal of most of the existing forested median along the stretch of road to accommodate the extra lanes. Martin said the report found that 41,000 cars currently use the road daily.

“If you look at the data that supports this recommendation, if you look at traffic flow down Kingwood Drive, we all know it’s congested but we also know that we moved here for a reason,” Martin said. If implementation of an eight-lane Kingwood Drive proves impossible due to public opposition, the report recommends to proceed with a six-lane, $29 million alternative. However, the report also concluded that traffic trends on Kingwood Drive already suggest that a six-lane alternative would necessitate the planning and construction of widening to eight lanes very shortly after a six-lane thoroughfare were completed. “If you look at the manual that these guys go by … the manual will tell you that [Kingwood Drive] should be eight lanes,” Martin said.

“When it comes to the major thoroughfares and the reconstruction or widening, we are looking at the factors: the pavement condition, the adequacy of the roadway to the major thoroughfare freeway plan, level of service and that’s looked across the entire city with objective criteria and then as the highest of the needs come up we move that forward,” said Daniel Menendez, with public works and engineering.

Martin told residents that he would follow constituents’ wishes if he is still on city council when the time comes to make a decision on the issue.

“I know how people feel about the area and I know that it’s a question that always pops up and the argument always is: don’t cut down our trees, we will deal with the traffic,” he said. “But the data will give you another side of the argument.”

Kingwood resident Pat Browning echoed that sentiment when she took the microphone to voice her concerns over the current condition of Kingwood Drive.

“For those of you who are not used to Kingwood, it might not look that bad to you, but for those of us who have been here for a while, it’s not the same beautiful drive that it used to be,” she said.

The public may give their input on CIP projects to the city until the end of March. After that a draft CIP goes to council in April and by June projects will be reviewed and some will be approved.

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