The May meeting of Kingwood’s Parks Committee agenda appeared to be very short and routine until Dee Price of Sand Creek surprised everyone with an announcement.
Price let the group know that the Northpark Drive construction will begin soon at the entrance into Kingwood from Highway 59. She made her announcement when a comment was made that the committee cannot do anything now but routine maintenance until it knows when contractors are going to start tearing the area apart for road construction. Depending on when the final engineering plans are completed, landscaping responsibilities in the area will be greatly affected.
“I have an update on that. At the Super Neighborhood Council Stan Sarman and I attended, it was mentioned that [Houston] Mayor Turner has approved moving the budget funds for the Kingwood Drive Road Improvement project to the Northpark Road Improvement project. It has now been approved officially. I think it is about $30 million,” Price said.
She explained that if one takes those city funds together with the TIRZ 10 Funds (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10) there is enough money to move forward in Phase One of the overall traffic improvement plan for Northpark Drive.
“Phase One will be from Highway 59 going toward Woodland Hills and will take in the grade separation (called the flyover by many) at 494 and the railroad tracks. They will probably run out of money just past the grade separation so at least what they’ll get is they will reconfigure the intersection at Highway 59 and will add the grade separation which would enhance traffic flow more than anything else,” Price said.
Price noted TIRZ 10 is continuing to work on getting the additional funding needed for Phase Two that will take the road widening all the way to Woodland Hills Drive to complete the project.
“What that means to us on the parks committee is that it accelerates the timing for the construction of Phase One. They anticipate that Phase One will be under construction by this time next year,” she said, and noted that KSA landscaping responsibilities either will be untouched by the project or wiped out, depending on the final decisions of where and how the access and side lanes will be constructed. Price assured the committee that all of the involved authorities were still committed to help with creating an appropriate Kingwood entrance area landscape, signage or monument of some sort, yet to be determined, as part of the overall road improvement project.
“The construction starts at this time next year, but it’s likely to take a two- or three-year construction time. There is going to be a lot of pain involved until we get this done and then it will be great,” Price said.
Price concluded by noting another major road improvement project outside of Kingwood is tentatively scheduled to start while the Northpark Drive construction is underway. It will also greatly impact the traffic situation in and around Kingwood. She explained that the Texas Department of Transportation is in the final planning stages to widen FM 1960 from its existing four-lane roadway to a six-lane roadway, including one center lane in each direction 18 feet wide for shared use. The project is 6.4 miles long. It begins east of Highway 59 at Townsen Boulevard and goes to the McKay Bridge over Lake Houston. It includes a grade separation at Atascocita Road, West Lake Houston Parkway and Farmingham Road. Also included will be an 18-foot-wide raised median and 5-foot-wide sidewalks in each direction along both sides of the right of way. The planned date to start construction is in the fall of 2019. It is expected to take 36 months to complete.
The next KSA Parks meeting will be Thursday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2030 Shadow Rock Drive.
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