Image: Montgomery County Craig Doyal, June 29, 2017, waiting to speak to the Texas Transportation Commission.
Austin, June 30 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal lied to the Texas Transportation Commission at a hearing in Austin yesterday and told them, in response to questioning from Transportation Commissioner J. Bruce Bugg, Jr., that he stood before the Commission on behalf of the “unified voice” of the local community of Montgomery County behind tolling the Tx-249 extension, known as the Tx-249 Taxway, the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 extension, or the Decimation of Hope Highway.
Incredibly, the result of Doyal’s pleas to the Texas Transportation Commission is that Montgomery County will be the only county north of Harris County along the so-called “Aggie Parkway” from Houston to College Station which will have tollroads along it. As citizens pay those tolls, they should remember that Craig Doyal is the person responsible for the tolls in direct contravention of the Republican Party of Texas Platform and in contravention of the campaign promise of Governor Greg Abbott who assured voters in 2014 that he would stop the growth of toll roads. The remainder of the Aggie Parkway will be a free road.
Incredibly, the result of Doyal’s pleas to the Texas Transportation Commission is that Montgomery County will be the only county north of Harris County along the so-called “Aggie Parkway” from Houston to College Station which will have tollroads along it…The remainder of the Aggie Parkway will be a free road.
Doyal failed to disclose to the Commission that Richard Muller, a consultant on the Tx-249 Taxway Project who works closely with Doyal, admitted in the April 13, 2017, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting that Montgomery County voters would never approve construction of the project in a referendum, if such a referendum ever came before them.
Instead, Doyal told the Commission, “we still stand behind this project firmly…We as the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority stand behind our commitment for a segment” of the tollroad. Doyal told the Commission that resolutions of the Commissioners Court and the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority have supported the Tx-249 Taxway, although he failed to mention that he should have recused himself from those votes due to severe conflicts of interest arising from his business partnership with Bobby Adams, the Tx-249 Taxway engineer who works for the project manager, Halff Associates, that’s received more than $2 million from the project so far. Without Doyal’s improper vote, the support for the Tx-249 Taxway would have failed.
Doyal also failed to mention to the Commission that the Montgomery County Commissioners Court did, in fact, vote against further funding for the Tx-249 Taxway on May 9, 2017, when Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador was absent from the meeting and the funding resolution died on a 2 to 2 vote. Doyal further failed to mention that the Tx-249 Taxway will not relieve congestion in Montgomery County but possibly increase it, while it has already taken more than $13 million of County general revenue funds away from more important use to relieve the massive congestion in Commissioner Precinct 2 from Doyal’s and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s failure to allocate those resources properly.
Doyal concluded his remarks by announcing his excitement for real estate development in Todd Mission, which is outside of Montgomery County, as a result of the Tx-249 Taxway. Doyal’s excitement for that development would seem to emanate from the political contributions Doyal has received from outside-of-the-county contributions and business firms.
Why Doyal lied to the Texas Transportation Commission
Doyal has admitted that, if the Texas Department of Transportation were to construct the 11.4 miles of the Tx-249 extension immediately north of the 3.6 miles of the road which Montgomery County plans to construct as a tollroad, then it would not make sense for those 3.6 miles to be a tollroad either. Doyal wants Montgomery County to build the 3.6 mile stretch of road so that he and Riley can funnel $73 million to Halff Associates and other favored political and legal defense fund contributors.
The $73 million price tag will make the Decimation of Hope Highway, at more than $20 million per mile, one of the most expensive highways ever built in American history.
Since Doyal and Riley desperately want to control the flow of funds to their favored engineers and contractors, it seemed critical for Doyal to appear before the Texas Transportation Commission today to plead that they place tolls on the entirety of the Montgomery County section of the Tx-249 extension, in order to justify Doyal’s and Riley’s construction of 3.6 miles of tollway.
Bill O’Sullivan’s take on it
Local Montgomery County sage Bill O’Sullivan attended the hearing in Austin yesterday. The following is his explanation of the events:
“I went to Austin yesterday to the TxDot hearing to argue against tolling. What happened at the Meeting had to happen now because of the likelihood of the “No Tolls” policy taking hold.” [Publisher’s Note: Governor Greg Abbott has promised “no tolls” to the people of Texas.]“This is all just a big land deal scam. There are large tracts of land north of Magnolia and east of 1774 that the owners want developed. In order to do so, they needed a large road to go there. So these owners decided to donate ROW for a four lane road but one was not coming their way soon. Yesterday, this was portrayed as a magnanimous gesture and it would be if it was these owners only land. I expect those donors still own large tracts along the ROW. However, this is what brought this all into clarity for me.”
“Enter MOCO and TxDot. MOCO agrees to build from Harris County to Pinehurst in return to receive tolls in perpetuity where the most tolls will be paid. In Austin yesterday, TxDot voted to build the piece from Pinehurst to Todd Mission, all in MOCO, and toll it. It’s about 11 miles. By the time it gets to Todd Mission the vehicle count will have dwindled so extensively that beyond Todd Mission, they can’t Toll it. Once this road crosses into Grimes County, it will not be tolled. That is all the way out almost to TX-6. I expect it will feed into 105 just east of TX-6 to facilitate transitioning to TX-6.The road itself from Todd Mission to TX-6 we were told is not viable as either an investment or a Toll Road. I expect it will remain a line drawn on a piece of paper for a long time.”“Judge Doyal justified MOCO doing this because if it was going to be tolled, MOCO should get the Tolls not the State. That was a ‘whopper.’ He knew all along that the Pinehurst to Todd Mission section, all in MOCO, was going to be tolled by the State and the tolls kept by the State. This all goes to prove that the ‘Iron Triangle’ in Montgomery County that I first wrote about eight years ago still exists. That’s the ‘Good Ole Boy’ politicians, the vendors that finance their races and now their legal defense and the invisible hand of the big money interests that moves the other two to their will.The people and their needs? Don’t be ridiculous.”
What to expect next
Doyal will return to Montgomery County and tell the citizens words to the effect, “Well, I told you so. Tx-DOT has said they’re going to toll the road, so there’s nothing we can do about it and we might as well build our own 3.6 miles of road.”
Of course, don’t expect Doyal to be truthful with the citizens of Montgomery County that Tx-DOT tolled the road, because Craig Doyal convinced Tx-DOT to toll the road!