AP NEWS

TIRZ preps for bond authorization to help fund Northpark expansion

January 11, 2019

The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 10 continues to make progress on the Northpark Drive expansion project and intersection improvements throughout Kingwood.

TIRZ consultant Ralph de Leon announced that the language for the expansion’s interlocal agreement had been approved and is to be sent to city council, during the Jan. 10 meeting at Kingwood Community Center.

After the TIRZ’s lifespan was extended to 2048 in December, which allows money to be borrowed at a better rate, the approval of the interlocal agreement and an increase in the TIRZ’s debt authorization are the next two items that will require clearance so that the project can advance.

“And we were told it was being prepared by the Interagency Group of Public Works and Engineering Department,” he said. “Before the holiday they said to look for it the third week of January.”

The interlocal agreement will let the city contribute $15.4 million for the overpass project. Upon approval, $6 million of this will go into the authority’s account.

“Overpass project” refers to the first of two phases to the Northpark Drive expansion project, which will add more lanes to the roadway from Hwy. 59 to Russell Palmer Road. Phase II — the reconstruction project — will continue from there until Woodland Hills Drive and include the process of raising the road above the 500-year floodplain level or by 2 feet.

The project’s cost is currently estimated at $86.2 million, or the sum of the first phase’s $38.8 million and the second’s estimated $47.4 million.

Drew Masterson, managing director and owner of Masterson Advisors, also handed out to each TIRZ member a tentative calendar on “how fast you could sell bonds.”

Although the time frame from drafting the bond documents to closing can last five months, according to the document, there is an understanding among members that things should proceed as fast as possible.

Intersection improvements

Regarding intersection improvements, Rachel Ray-Welsh of Walter P. Moore said that two intersections — Woodland Hills Drive at Kingwood Drive and Willow Terrace at Kingwood Drive — will have “a change in design and traffic control,” prompting an increase in scope.

De Leon added that, after consulting with her and TIRZ 10 chairman Stan Sarman, a complete lane replacement will be the approach when tackling intersections.

“If you visualize the intersection of Northpark Drive and West Lake Houston Parkway, we took a very conservative approach and replaced the concrete as it was cracking, and what we have now is two different ages of concrete and they’re not gonna age the same,” De Leon said. “We found that — this is the construction process — some of the panels actually crack, and so there is going to a problem or a pothole.”

Although this will lead to an increase in costs, Sarman noted that “it makes more sense.” In the board packet provided at the meeting, the additional lump-sum fee requested for the Woodland Hills and Kingwood Drive intersection is $78,556 while that for Willow Terrace and Kingwood Drive is $33,905.

The TIRZ members will reconvene in February.

nguyen.le@chron.com