Groundbreaking for Northpark Drive expansion project

Northpark Drive Expansion Starting Today

On 4/13/23 at 8 A.M. sharp, Northpark Drive expansion started after 10 years of planning. Dignitaries gathered in the parking lot of a local business for the groundbreaking ceremony even as surveyors were already working father east and Harper Brothers Construction started prepositioning equipment.

This project will make Kingwood safer in the next big flood. It will also make the Livable Forest more livable by reducing traffic congestion.

Ceremonial Kickoff

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin, Council Member-at-Large Sally Alcorn, the board of the Lake Houston Area Redevelopment Authority, and Montgomery County Precinct 4 Commissioner Matt Gray all grabbed shovels for the ceremonial kickoff.

Gray will coordinate with the City on this project. Even though it is within the City, Phase One falls entirely in Montgomery County.

Martin acted as master of ceremonies and reminded everyone of the work the late TIRZ Chairman Stan Sarman did to keep this project moving through the years.

How Project Began

Martin called this the first major infrastructure project in Kingwood since the West Lake Houston Parkway Bridge was built between 1990 and 1992. He also provided a brief history of the project. More than a decade ago, the City considered expanding Kingwood Drive.

Traffic studies showed that Kingwood Drive ranked as the most congested thoroughfare in the City and was among the most dangerous. However, the community’s desire to preserve the trees along Kingwood Drive – one of the signature attractions of the community – put that project on indefinite hold.

The City then began looking at Northpark Drive as an alternative. It was ranked the fifth most congested thoroughfare in the City and also one of the most dangerous.

Benefits of Project

Martin emphasized the benefits of the project during emergencies, such as Hurricane Harvey, which virtually turned Kingwood into an island. He also talked about the increasing length of trains and how they could block Kingwood Drive, Northpark and Ford Road simultaneously.

Martin said that the Northpark Drive expansion will provide a bridge over the railroad tracks and Loop 494 that lets citizens, firetrucks and ambulances enter and exit Kingwood 24/7/365 without delay. The City will also raise Northpark in places that frequently flood, i.e., at the diversion ditch and over Bens Branch.

Culverts will replace the ditch now down the center of Northpark Drive so the thoroughfare can expand to six lanes.

Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin

The first phase of the project from 59 to the Kingwood Diversion Ditch should take about two years to complete. Traffic frequently backs up most of this distance, especially when trains pass through the area.

Pictures of Groundbreaking

Below are pictures that show today’s ceremony and scope of the project.

Martin (left) and Turner (right) kicked off the ceremony by talking about the need for the project and thanking all those present for their support.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has only eight and a half months left in office, drew a laugh from the crowd when he quipped that residents could complain to someone else about traffic delays during construction.
First shovels in a two year project. Gray, Martin and Turner are fourth, fifth and sixth from left respectively. Traffic backed up in background underscores need for project.
Looking SW. Drone shot taken as event (bottom middle) was breaking up also shows where bridge will go over UP railroad tracks and Loop 494 in upper right.
Looking west. Another drone shot taken on previous afternoon at 3PM shows inbound traffic backed up all the way to 59 in background .
Looking east toward Kingwood. First phase of project will go to end of ditch at top of frame.

Construction always entails some pain. But the benefits will far outweigh any inconvenience. I can’t wait to be one of the first to drive over the bridge that will alleviate the perpetual congestion at the intersection above.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 4/13/2023

2053 Days since Hurricane Harvey