– TxDOT outlines plans for Loop 494 improvements –
Overcast skies and threats of rain outside Kingwood Park High School were the appropriate mood-setter inside for the Lake Houston Chamber’s Kingwood BizCom April 4. With Hurricane Harvey fresh on their minds, residents occupied every seat in the Kingwood Park conference room and several community and business members stood along the walls as representatives of the Italian company proposing The Herons development gave an update.
“The problems that we saw because of Hurricane Harvey must be fixed before we proceed,” Leah Manlove Howard said, “that’s why we’re going to Austin to meet with state leaders. Hopefully, this development will push our legislators to action to release the money that is needed.”
Manlove Howard stressed that The Herons was proposed more than five years ago “… before Harvey. The hurricane was devastating to the property but now we can plan. Your group can give us solid input on mobility and access.”
The proposed Herons would be located next to Kingwood’s Barrington, just south of Kingwood and Woodland Hills drives.
Manlove Howard and Michelle Hundley with Stratus Public Relations fielded numerous questions. One audience member asked about bald eagle sightings in the proposed development.
“We looked and it hasn’t been seen on the property,” Manlove Howard said. “You have to understand that the developer loves this property. He bought it because of the natural beauty and he will respect that beauty.”
Others asked about development phase-in and timeline development.
“We’ll begin with residential building first, followed by the commercial development and, finally the marina,” Manlove Howard said. “This is going to be a long process. We finally received public comments from the Army Corps of Engineers so a public hearing can be held but that may not happen for another four months.”
Manlove Howard stressed that The Herons is a long-term project and the developer’s number one priority is safety and evacuation.
“We’re very early in our development and at the mercy of the federal government,” she said, “and a timeline won’t make any difference if the issues regarding future flooding aren’t resolved.”
Manlove Howard and Hundley stressed the pluses for developing The Herons, saying the development will provide a solution for Kingwood and neighboring communities in removing sedimentation, increase the capacity of the waterways, improve drainage and reduce the possibility of flooding in the area.
Kingwood BizCom participants also got a warning from a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) representative. Work will begin in June to widen Loop 494 from Kingwood Drive to Sorters-McClellan Road. The intersection at Kingwood Drive will be upgraded, sidewalks will be added, drainage improved, traffic signals upgraded, a center median added, and the Kingwood Drive intersection will be upgraded and raised more than a foot, said Montgomery County Area Engineer Adam Galland.
Kingwood Drive will always be open, Galland said, but two-way traffic will be shifted from one side of the road to the other depending on the work.
Galland said TxDOT has walked door-to-door to get the word out but encourages businesses and residents to call him with questions or concerns at 936-538-3300.
“It’s going to be rough,” he predicted.
“Just don’t shoot the messenger,” Kingwood BizCom Chair Jennifer Carney reminded the group.
The next Kingwood BizCom is Aug. 1 at Kingwood High School. There is no charge but registration is required. To register for the Humble, Kingwood, Atascocita or Summer Creek BizComs, visit lakehouston.org.