William Conlan, project manager for the Kingwood drainage study conducted by the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), announced the much-anticipated study is in its final stages of review. Speaking at the Sept. 24 Lake Houston Redevelopment Authority and Tax Increment Zone No. 10 (TIRZ) meeting, he explained that it will be presented in a public meeting this month and posted on the HCFCD website.
“The purpose of the study was to identify the existing flooding concerns of all the streams and open channels and develop a strategy to try to get to that 100-year level of service,” Conlan said. Ultimately the HCFCD has two or three immediate projects they are working on to integrate within allocated flood control funds.
“The actual research effort, the speculations, the models have all been completed. We have received and reviewed the final technical report. It is a pretty extensive report, upward of 600 pages and covers all the areas of Kingwood, the existing conditions, both the open channels and the stream flow analysis. It also includes level of service analysis and recommendations on projects for areas that do not have a 100-year flood analysis,” Conlan said.
Gary Bezemek spoke about the next steps of releasing the report and moving forward.
“The biggest thing we are focused on is having the public engagement,” Bezemek said. HCFC will include providing online access to the report and the presentations used for public meetings. The initial meeting to release the report is currently expected to be this month but the specific date is still not determined, pending final approval of the report. It will be announced in accordance with public meeting notice requirements. The public will be able to review the detail of the report online before the meeting.
The other major items of information provided to the TIRZ directors were updates to two projects that are often referred to as one, the Northpark Drive Project. Overall the project is on schedule and TIRZ Chairman Stan Sarman reported that he, on behalf of the TIRZ, and Dee Price, on behalf of the Kingwood Service Association which is coordinating the landscaping aspects of the project, have received benchmark reports for the 60% planning milestone of the project.
“Things are progressing well,” Sarman said.
Ralph De Leon, administrator for the TIRZ, clarified what he thinks may have become confusing in many peoples’ minds as the overall Northpark Drive Project has grown over the years of planning.
“I just want to clarify for the board what is happening with the Northpark Drive Project. I think we have been saying it in a generic sense. It is actually two projects. It is an overpass project and it is a reconstruction project, T1013 and T1014 (respectively),” De Leon said. “It is broken down in the budget that way because it is actually two projects with different funding partners.
“The eastern sector (T014) is what we are calling the portion between Russell Palmer Road and Woodland Hills. It has $34 million of federal funds and those dollars are programmed for 2023. That is because it has those federal dollars and we have to go through a federal process that takes about two years,” he said.
He explained that they did not have to go through that process for what they are calling the western sector (T1013) which is the overpass project because it is all locally funded. That includes funding by the TxDOT, the City of Houston and working with the railroad at the Highway 494 intersection and railroad crossing.
“We are able to do that project in a shorter period of time,” De Leon said. However, he noted they have been planning to construct the overall project in phases from the beginning because of the amount of construction required and the traffic congestion challenges involved. The federal process requiring two years at his point in the project has no appreciable effect on the actual time required to get the entire project completed from a construction standpoint.
The next Lake Houston TIRZ 10 Directors Meeting will be Nov. 12 at 8 a.m. at the Kingwood Community Center. The public is invited. If COVID-19 restrictions are still required, it will again be conducted as a teleconference call.