October 26, 2023 – The $100 million Northpark Drive expansion project in Kingwood is making steady progress. But in some areas, the action is behind-the-scenes and out of sight for commuters. Let me describe the key highlights for this last week in October. Let’s start west of US59 and move east.
Sidewalk Extension to Kingwood College
Contractors have begun building sidewalks that will eventually connect Kingwood with Kingwood College. This will enable students who cannot afford vehicles to walk or ride bikes to school, saving money that they can put toward their educations. (Most of us can remember what that was like!) Right now, contractors are working to lay-out the forms west of the US59, on TxDOT right-of-way. The sidewalks will extend westward toward Rock Creek on both the north and south sides of the road.
Brush Piles Removed
At the US59/Northpark intersection, contractors have removed huge brush piles and taken soil samples in preparation for excavation of detention basins. However, some trees still need to be transplanted, especially south of Northpark.
Entry Pond Drainage Pipe
Contractors are installing a 12′ waterline on the north side of Northpark to take stormwater from the two new entry ponds at 59 toward Bens Branch and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch.
Between 59 and 494, contractors have begun transplanting trees in preparation for widening the street.
Railroad Agreement and Road Closure
The UnionPacific railroad and City of Houston have an interlocal agreement going before City Council on Wednesday, November 1, 2023. The agreement provides for the contractor’s right-of-entry and will allow private utilities to relocate their facilities now, in advance of the reconstruction of two at-grade crossings. Once approved by the City, progress in that area should quickly become more visible. Ralph De Leon, Northpark Project Manager, says he has been working to clear this hurdle since 2015!
When construction begins, UP will need to close Northpark at some point for three days to replace a section of track and update crossing signals. The new signals will provide better integration with other crossings up and down the track.
Widening of Ditch 1
Behind Public Storage, contractors are beginning to construct the new outfall, and clear and grub “Ditch 1” for more than 800 feet. This will help channel runoff down to Bens Branch and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch. It will create an alternate route to evacuate excess stormwater that collects in the detention basins at the US59 Northpark entry. Ditch 1 will parallel Northpark behind the businesses on the north side of the street.
Water Main Conflict Resolved
Just past Russell-Palmer, the conflict with a church water main has finally been solved. The City approved a plan to reroute the water under the 6’x8′ box culverts being installed in the center ditch. Once rerouted, contractors will go back and install the missing sections of culvert. They will also place a concrete collar around the splice in the sections of culvert to seal it..
Detention Capacity Expansion
Engineers are studying different scenarios to increase the detention capacity of Ditch 1 north of Northpark. They’re also working on solutions to distribute water between Bens Branch and the Kingwood Diversion Ditch, so as not to overwhelm the capacity of either.
Phase II Kicking Off in January
Planning for Phase II of the project (east of the Kingwood Diversion Ditch) has begun. Engineers are examining designs for a pedestrian tunnel near Glade Valley. The tunnel would accommodate extra wide wheelchairs used by clients at the Village Learning Center who shuttle between the Center and jobs along Northpark.
Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority/TIRZ 10 will hold two public meetings. The first is scheduled for January 11, 2024, at the Kingwood Community Center to discuss Phase II and solicit input from other groups and residents.
Additionally, the Engineers are studying different scenarios to increase the detention capacity on the north side of Northpark Drive at Ben’s Branch in order to reduce flooding further south on Ben’s Branch. Potential solutions include detention basins and diverting more water down the Kingwood Diversion Ditch. The Diversion Ditch is being expanded as part of a separate project.
For More Information
The Northpark expansion project has two purposes:
- Reduce traffic congestion/commute times
- Create an all-weather evacuation route for 70,000 people who might be affected by floods or train mishaps.
You can review progress of the job by browsing these previous ReduceFlooding.com posts:
- 23/10/12 Transplanting first tree
- 23/10/02 Clearing of south-side entry for second pond
- 23/09/30 Clearing north-side entry for first pond
- 23/09/23 How plan balances flood mitigation, costs, saving trees
- 23/09/02 New entry design, change in construction plans forced by utility conflicts
- 23/08/17 More drainage for Northpark
- 23/08/02 Ditch clearing stretches halfway to 59 in less than week
- 23/07/25 Northpark construction starts in earnest
- 23/04/13 Groundbreaking
- 22/02/19 Update on expansion project
- 21/07/28 Plan details
For more information, consult the LHRA/TIRZ 10 website.
For a schematic diagram of Phase II (Russell-Palmer to Woodland Hills and beyond, see below.
Posted by Bob Rehak on 10/26/23
2249 Days since Hurricane Harvey