CIP meeting dominated by Northpark project discussion

Despite a major Kingwood Drive reconstruction project still on the city’s agenda, a proposed alternative with no current funding was the main topic of discussion at District E Houston City Council Member Dave Martin’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) meeting Feb. 23 at the Kingwood Community Center.

Rather than widening Kingwood Drive to six lanes from Loop 494 to Woodland Hills, Martin told residents that there is a good chance the City of Houston might be able to make a deal with Tax Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) No. 10 to move funding from the Kingwood Drive project to widen Northpark Drive. The project would also require cooperation with Montgomery County, the Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation.

“What if we took the opportunity to look at Northpark, which is just as congested as Kingwood Drive, and what if we attack that first, because no one will complain about doing something on Northpark because there is an ugly ditch, and we’ll do it the right way,” Martin said. “Do a nice thoroughfare, with greenery in the middle and really dress up what is, in my opinion, an ugly street and turn it into a nice place to go.”

The Northpark project calls for an overpass over Loop 494 past the railroad tracks with frontage roads running in each direction.

According to Stan Sarman, chairman of TIRZ No. 10, construction could possibly start on Northpark Drive sometime in the year 2020, depending on funding.

“If we work the deal with the City of Houston, perhaps moving the funding over from Kingwood Drive, which sounds very positive, then we may take and do this project in two pieces so we can get moving faster, particularly on the overpass at Northpark Drive at 494,” Sarman said. “The Union Pacific Railroad has already told us they have about 28 trains a day coming through here, and they’re expecting to have more. And their long-range plan is to have a parallel track to the one that’s there now so they can bring more trains through. So, the overpass is absolutely mandatory.”

Even if the expansion to Northpark Drive is realized, there is no guarantee that city will not recommend widening Kingwood Drive in future plans.