Conroe, June 17 – At 9:31 p.m., this evening, the Courier blog released a shameful garbage article on the $73 million, 3.6-mile, Tx-249 tollway, better known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, in which blog writer Catherine Dominguez, as is her practice, permitted Montgomery County vendors Halff Associates, Inc., and Muller & Associates to provide all of the content for the article. Dominguez failed to interview any officials with the Texas Department of Transportation, the United States Public Interest Research Group, any Texas legislator such as State Representative Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands), or even any County official for the blog post.
The article is an example of the extremely liberal, big government bias of the Courier blog, which many years ago was actually a newspaper. The blog post made apparent that Dominguez permitted County Judge Craig Doyal’s “chief of staff” jim fredricks to dictate the sources of information for the article. Dominguez failed to interview anyone other than:
- James Baker, engineer, the Halff Associates, Inc., the company whom taxpayers have already paid more than $2 million for the project and which stands to make a lot more if the project proceeds. Halff’s regional vice president is Bobby Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner.
- Rich Muller, a Fort Bend attorney who has made tens of thousands of dollars as a County vendor on the Tx-249 project already and also stands to make a lot more.
The theme of the Courier blog post is that taxpayers won’t have to pay anything for the Decimation of Hope Highway. That’s patently ridiculous, because the County government has already paid more than $13 million on the project since 2015.
In the article, Baker claimed that the cost per mile of the $73 million, 3.6 mile project is about $17.5 million. Apparently, Baker, a licensed engineer, is unable to do simple mathematics. $73 million divided by 3.6 miles = $20 million per mile. That would make the tollway project one of the most expensive road projects in American history on a per mile basis.
Muller contended that taxpayers won’t have to pay anything for the road project, because revenue bonds will fund the entire project. It’s unbelievable that even Dominguez, known for writing fictional blog posts on many previous occasions, would post that. The blog post also contended that “TxDOT officials confirmed last week that if it were to build the 3.6-mile section, it would toll it…” Those statements are incorrect for the following reasons:
- First, taxpayers have already funded $13 million for the highway boondoggle, as a simple review of the County’s accounting records reveals.
- Second, as Muller admitted in the Commissioners Court on April 13, 2017, there are no current projections for the road’s usage, because the 2014 of CDM Smith engineers is out-of-date. That study included certain assumptions, including the completion of the Woodlands Parkway Extension to feed traffic to the 249 tollway, that will never occur.
- Third, as Keough’s Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps has pointed out, there’s a fundamental problem with the entire Montgomery County portion of the Tx-249 tollway: it dead ends into State Highway 105 more than 10 miles away from Highway 6. Therefore, it will be a difficult and undesirable mechanism to reach College Station from the Houston area.
- Fourth, without projections for the road’s usage and toll revenue, it’s impossible to ascertain whether Montgomery County taxpayers will ultimately have to backstop any losses on the 249 tollway project. Other tolled roads in Montgomery County, especially the SH 242 flyover, have failed to meet revenue projections.
Basically, without speaking to anyone other than County vendors with a direct interest in seeing Montgomery County proceed with the 3.6 mile tollway project, so that money will go directly to their firms, Dominguez and the Courier blog – once again – published harmful fiction the headline of which taxpayers will likely regret bitterly for many years to come.
Shame on the Courier blog. Shame on Dominguez. Shame on her editor Andy Dubois.
That’s why The Golden Hammer has become Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper in less than six months of existence.