Need for Northpark Drive Expansion Project

February Update on Northpark Drive Expansion

My posts earlier this week about repair of the Northpark Drive drainage ditch between Loop 494 and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch sparked a flurry of questions. People wanted to know when the Northpark Drive expansion project would begin. Last July, local leaders felt it would begin before the end of 2021. Obviously that didn’t happen. So I reached out to Stan Sarman, chairman of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority (LHRA) and Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) #10 (Kingwood).

Sarman, an engineer by trade, said “I never thought it would take this long to obtain all the Right-Of-Way easements and approval of the plans by the City of Houston and Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR). Below is a summary of the information that was reported at the LHRA/TIRZ10 Board meeting on February 10th.”

“The 100% construction plans went to the City and UPRR,” continued Sarman. “We are now getting more comments from the City Public Works people. There is to be a meeting next week with our consultants and the City staff to work through the comments.” 

“The UPRR approval is not expected until late March, 2022, according to UPRR’s consultant. We have 6 or 7 easements remaining and we are close to getting across the finish line by the end of March.”

“The best estimate I have,” said Sarman “is to try and bid the job in April, 2022, and start construction in mid summer. We will keep the public informed of when we expect construction to start.”

The money is in the TIRZ budget, which the City approved. See pages 7-9 of Exhibit A in this PDF.

Northpark Drive Reconstruction Project Overview

Here’s a link to more information about the project on the LHRA website. Northpark Drive reconstruction consists of two projects right now.

T-1013 Northpark Drive Overpass Project (Western Phase)

The reconstruction of Northpark Drive into a 6-lane divided roadway, between IH-69 and Russell Palmer Road and an overpass over the UPRR train tracks and State Loop 494. Projected to take 30 months after start of construction.

T-1014 Northpark Drive Reconstruction Project (Eastern Phase)

The reconstruction of Northpark Drive into a 6-lane divided roadway, new bridges at the Kingwood Diversion Ditch and Ben’s Branch and a pedestrian tunnel near Glade Valley Road. Projected to take 24 months after start of construction.

Say Goodbye to the Ditch

A giant buried box culvert will replace the ditch down the middle of the Northpark and the extra lanes will go over the top of it.

Other features include:

  • Drainage will be sized to comply with new higher Atlas-14 requirements.
  • Dual 10-foot wide pathways on the north and south sides of Northpark Drive from Rock Creek Drive to Russell Palmer Road will facilitate bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
  • Enhanced lighting and landscaping.

This project can’t come soon enough for me. Coming inbound to Kingwood today from US59, I saw outbound traffic stacked up for more than a mile past Russell-Palmer Road! That’s an everyday experience as shown by this file photo taken last July 28.

Northpark Drive looking east at outbound traffic on left side of road. Taken July 28, 2021 from over the UP railroad tracks.

If traffic backs up this far in the middle of a sunny afternoon, imagine how far it would back up when thousands were trying to evacuate from a flood.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 2/19/22

1635 Days since Hurricane Harvey