Martin fights for Kingwood Drive widening dollars

The Houston City Council approved the $8.7 billion 2016-2020 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) today despite strong opposition from council members Dave Martin, C.O. Bradford and Michael Kubosh.

The proposed plan allocates just 3 percent of funds for District E projects out of  total budget, while other districts received as much as 21 percent.

In an effort to raise awareness of the inequity and increase funding and the amount of projects within the district, Martin presented several amendments that would have allocated a portion of the funds evenly over the 11 council districts which were voted down, but not without a lengthy discussion and agreement that a policy change needs to be addressed on how the CIP dollars are allocated in future years.

Additionally, while reviewing the CIP, Martin took a close look at the funding sources for each project and noticed that funding for the widening of Kingwood Drive had changed from a city-funded source to being funded primarily by state dollars that don’t exist. Through further research of TxDOT projects Martin discovered that the Kingwood Drive expansion project did not exist on TxDOT’s most recent project list.

“This is not right,” said Martin. “Why are we looking to the state to fund city projects when our taxpayers were told that their taxes were going to fund this project? Where did that money go? We collect a drainage fee/tax from our taxpayers, and we move those funds to a Dedicated Drainage and Street Repair Fund. We identified this street, using the city’s “worst-first” criteria, as the second worst street in the City of Houston based on congestion and condition. As a result, $18 million was allocated in Rebuild Houston dedicated funds, only for us to find out that those funds were moved out of this project and replaced by TxDOT funds that are not in TxDOT’s five-year plan. I want our taxpayer dollars back.”

After a lengthy discussion, Martin gathered the support of council members and the amendment passed with a 14-1 vote. With the passage of the amendment the administration agreed that the $11 million of proposed TxDOT funding for Kingwood Drive would be reallocated to its original funding source within the City of Houston.

The administration also agreed to continue to work to find funding for other potential projects within District E including a Clear Lake community center and reconstruction of Space Center Boulevard and Allen Genoa.

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