AP NEWS

Northpark Drive expansion now costs more to be Chapter-19 compliant

November 17, 2018

With the cost to expand Northpark Drive approaching $90 million, members of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10 are seeking solutions to fund the project.

The TIRZ board met 8 a.m. Thursday at the Kingwood Community Center to discuss shortfalls in funding spured by its lifespan limitations, requirements from the city of Houston and growing costs associated with the project during its monthly meeting.

There are two phases to the expansion. The first — the overpass project — aims to expand the roadway from Hwy. 59 to Russell Palmer Road and the second — the reconstruction project — will pick up from there until Woodland Hills Drive.

“But you’re still short (of the money you need),” said TIRZ consultant Ralph De Leon regarding the last of the four scenarios regarding amassing funding for the project. “You’re short on cash needed for the construction of the overpass and you’re substantially short, about $8 million short, on the reconstruction project.”

Other challenges to the expansion were also brought up at the meeting. After telling board members that the City of Houston remains supportive in the project, Jennifer Curley, the senior staff analyst from the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, reminded them of the project’s location being outside of the city boundaries.

She also said that the project’s cost is now $86 million. Councilman Dave Martin later elaborated that the increase — the previously reported number was $50 million — is due to concerns over development in the floodplain or Chapter 19.

“Northpark was an evacuation route for residents in Kingwood — it flooded during Harvey,” Martin said. “Thus we have to now go back and redo the engineering and redo the design plan because we now have to raise Northpark to get it above ‘the 500-year floodplain’ level.”

As stated in the guidelines, that level equals to 2 feet above the 500-year floodplain.

Martin also pointed out another important matter — extending the lifespan of the TIRZ. It will expire in 2028 and that time frame will affect the completion of the Northpark Drive expansion. A longer lifespan will allow the TIRZ to borrow more money at a better rate.

“We’re asking for a 20-year extension to 2048,” he said. “If we don’t get it, we don’t do projects.”

Before moving on to other items, TIRZ 10 Chairman Stan Sarman asked if board members have any other questions “because we don’t have anything to get approved for us.”

Intersection improvements

Rachel Ray-Welsh of Walter P. Moore then provided the latest on intersection improvements. Both the Northpark and Kings Crossing intersections with West Lake Houston Parkway are waiting for the city to turn on the signal. Also, one of the ramps at Kings Crossing needs replacement.

Battery backup units were also requested for both signals and they have been ordered.

Preliminary survey for both the Willow Terrace and Woodland Hills intersections were collected. A Mills Branch Corridor Study will go into design “eventually” when the data collection phase is finished.

nguyen.le@chron.com

AP RADIO
Update hourly