Twelve residents and Houston City Councilman Dave Martin were in attendance at the Kingwood Community Center as the Kingwood Mobility Steering Committee reviewed input from residents, concerning options to recommend to the City of Houston and other authorities to improve Kingwood’s deteriorating traffic situation. The resident input was collected through an explanation and ranking process by the Gunda Corporation in support of the committee’s study of best options and their costs. It was presented to the committee by Gunda’s president, Ramesh Gunda. The 15 options were made public, and comments and a ranking by residents were requested by both the committee and Martin.
The alternatives and forms for ranking the projects were provided at the last meeting and at Martin's most recent Town Hall, and were also available by accessing the project website at gundacorp.com/kingwood-mobility.
Steering Committee Chairman Stan Sarman introduced Gunda Corporation’s Roger Ragu to present the results of the public input. Ragu presented a series of charts summarizing the data.
“As of November 18, we have received 173 e-mails and 169 ranking sheets of the alternatives and options,” said Ragu. He explained that the top rankings were to first make intersection and turn-lane improvements only; second, to widen Kingwood Drive; third, to extend Woodland Hills Drive to Hamblen Road and then expand Hamblen Road; and fourth, to widen Northpark Drive.
The committee members, joined by Gunda, discussed among themselves various options and noted that many of the less popular alternatives were to a large degree included in the top four ranked alternatives.
Martin asked to interrupt the committee’s discussions. He then addressed the residents and other observers and said:
“I need to meet with the steering committee for like five minutes. I met with a developer last week who has a project that is very confidential. Fred (resident Fred Bullough, who was in the audience) is probably going to accuse me of hiding stuff, but I told the developer that I needed to bring these people up to date because this would have a significant impact on one of the options that we have. I promised the developer that I would not tell anyone about it other than the steering committee, but I need them to be aware of it because it will have a rather significant impact on what we do, so I brought a chart along with me and I need five minutes to let them look at it.”
Martin explained the public announcement of the development is expected in January. He faced his chart away from the audience and discussed the project quietly with the committee, who huddled around him so as not to be heard by the general audience.
Following Martin’s private presentation, members of the committee continued to work toward finalizing their priorities, including the input from residents.
The committee agreed on the following priorities:
1. Intersection improvements
2. “6-laning” Kingwood Drive
3. “6-laning” Northpark Drive
4. Extend Woodland Hills Drive to Hamblen Road and widen Hamblen Road
5. Widen Kingwood Drive with grade separation at Loop 494
6. Widen with grade separation at Northpark and Loop 494
The committee approved plans for the next steps in the project. Gunda Corporation will update its Web page with the status for the public immediately, according to Gunda. Sarman and Gunda explained a draft for the Capital Improvement Plan must be developed. The necessary next steps will be taken and the next Mobility Steering Committee meeting will be scheduled at the appropriate time.
Martin raised the question of how to better communicate with residents of Kingwood to obtain general agreement and hopefully consensus from the residents including those in Forest Cove and along Hamblen Road. A suggestion was made that notices be put on the doors of homes but was rejected as not likely to be effective due to all the other advertising and notices placed on doors. Both Sarman and Dee Price, a resident and president of the Kingwood Service Association, agreed to pursue whether the committee could update residents through the association's website and through its member homeowners associations, which have websites and/or periodic newsletters sent to their residents.
The Tribune will continue to keep residents and the general public updated and will announce the confidential project that Martin briefed the committee about as soon as it becomes public. The Tribune has confirmed that it is a new project in addition to the Main Street Project recently approved as an upscale shopping center by Lovett Development at the corner of Kingwood Drive and W. Lake Houston Parkway.
Cutline: )The Mobility Committee huddles around Martin’s confidential chart.
Martin's office submitted this press release Friday:
Council Member Dave Martin Announces next steps to Kingwood Mobility Study
On Tuesday, Nov. 18, the Kingwood Mobility Study Steering Committee, made up of prominent Kingwood business leaders and residents, met at the Kingwood Community Center for their fifth meeting to discuss plans to improve congestion and mobility in the Kingwood area. Over the past year, the committee has convened to evaluate data and identify short, medium- and long-term traffic mobility improvements that could be implemented in the near future. Based on public feedback, the Steering Committee has narrowed down the top six most feasible options and have identified next steps to take to conclude the study process.
Once the draft report has been completed, the Steering Committee will present the report to the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #10 (TIRZ #10) Board. The board will have time to review the report and the six most feasible options before voting on it early next year. Following the vote, the Steering Committee will host a third and final public Stakeholder Meeting at the Kingwood Community Center where these improvements will be presented.
The timeline for the above mentioned process is roughly four months. Council Member Martin's office will provide notice to the public once the final public Stakeholder Meeting has been scheduled.
Should any changes occur in the schedule Council Member Martin's office will keep the public updated. For questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office at 832-393-3008.