Image: The Decimation Trio at David Hamilton’s March 3, 2017, Wedding: Bobby Jack Adams of Halff Associates, Inc. (in pink shirt), David Hamilton of Binkley and Barfield Engineers (groom), Craig Doyal white shirt, no jacket), Montgomery County Judge and business partner of Adams and close friend of Adams and Hamilton.
Conroe, April 11 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are desperately seeking a new study from previous consultant CDM Smith to try to justify the reckless expenditure of $100 million on a 3.6-mile stretch of road known as the Tx-249 extension or “Decimation of Hope Highway,” since it will likely destroy the hope of Montgomery County taxpayers ever to get relief from the massive County government spending and taxes which Doyal, Riley, and their colleagues have imposed on them. Doyal has called a meeting of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority to occur immediately after the conclusion of the Commissioners Court meeting for the purpose of authorizing him to sign a new contract to have CDM Smith provide a new study.
What makes the proposal to hire CDM Smith – again – is that the consulting firm provided a study on the project only three years ago which has proved a powerful tool for use by the opponents of the Decimation of Hope Highway to show that the entire project is unworkable, infeasible, and harmful to regional mobility.
Doyal’s and Riley’s desperate plans for those 3.6 miles of road
Doyal and Riley want the The Decimation of Hope Highway, all 3.6 miles of it, to be a toll road at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County, a stretch of road rarely used by Montgomery County residents to get anywhere. Showing that the use of County funds and credit on this worthless project is even more reckless, the Texas Department of Transportation has made clear repeatedly that it would construct the Tx-249 extension without the participation of Montgomery County. During a speech last Monday, April 3, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack confirmed that he’s had direct conversations with several TxDOT officials who have confirmed TxDOT would build the road without Montgomery County contributing one dime of funds for it and already has the funds set aside to do so.
Doyal has failed to disclose the proposed cost of the new CDM Smith study. Montgomery County has already “loaned” more than $12 million for the highway boondoggle that seems only to serve the purpose of providing fat contracts to Doyal’s and Riley’s favorite political contributors, including Doyal’s business partner and best friend Bobby Jack Adams, the vice president of Halff Associates, Inc., the engineering firm that has received approximately $2 million for “project management” even though no project has already proceeded.
Doyal and Riley have also failed to disclose how they intend to pay for the $100 million Decimation of Hope Highway. General Obligation bonds would seem to be out of the question, because they would require voter approval, which would likely never occur. There are a number of technical problems with revenue bonds and certificates of obligation. Perhaps, Doyal and Riley hope to levy a giant tax rate increase in order to move the funds into the hands of their favorite political supporters.
Tx-249 highway boondoggle
U.S. PIRG, a nonpartisan public interest research group, has named the TX-249 extension project among the Twelve Most Questionable Highway Projects in the United States! The research group noted, “Citing outdated traffic projections, the Texas Department of Transportation claims it needs to spend between $337 million and $389 million building a 30-mile six-lane highway from Pinehurst in Montgomery County through Todd Mission in Grimes County to College Station…TxDOT expects vehicle traffic on one road in the area to quadruple from 2015 to 2040. State traffic projections represent average annual growth rates of between 3.7 and 5.5 percent. But data at TxDOT traffic counters in the area show that from 2007 to 2013, the growth was far lower, between zero and 4 percent a year.”
In order to try to justify the economics of the $100 million they want Montgomery County to spend on this project – which TxDOT would fund and build even without Montgomery County’s participation (!!!) – Doyal and his Commissioners Court colleagues, in a March 2014 CDM Smith study they commissioned to support the project, have relied upon economic projections of the toll revenue for that 3.6 miles that include the following assumptions, among others:
1.The Woodlands Parkway Extension, which Montgomery County voters rejected in a May 2015 bond referendum, “is assumed to be constructed and fully operational by the year 2023
2. The Harris County Toll Road Authority, NOT the Montgomery County government or the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, will set toll rates.
3. A large system of toll lanes will be constructed on IH 45.
4. The toll road authorities will conduct “effective” advertising and promotion to make you want to use toll roads.
5. Motor fuel prices will not “significantly exceed the overall rate of inflation.”
6. “No local, regional or national emergency will arise which would abnormally restrict the use of motor vehicles or substantially alter economic activity or freedom of mobility.”
According to Commissioner Charlie Riley, he has agreed not to proceed with The Woodlands Parkway Extension. Therefore, assumption 1 likely won’t happen. Assumption 3 will be a fiscal disaster for Texas drivers. Assumption 4 is offensive government propaganda reminiscent of George Orwell’s classic “1984.” Assumption 5 is questionable, given the extent to which the OPEC nations are inflating oil prices. Assumption 6 is ominous.
Assuming that Doyal, Riley, and Meador get their way and ram through a $100 million expenditure for the 3.6 mile (!) tollroad at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County, and somehow miraculously complete the road project by the beginning of 2018, their own frighteningly aggressive projections from the study they commissioned show the following revenue. The Golden Hammer has added a discount analysis based upon a conservative 3.75% discount rate (Wall Street Journal Prime Rate as of December 15, 2016).
Year Annual Revenue Net Revenue After Harris Cty Discounted
Takes Its Share Cumulative
2018 $1,237,000 $1,150,410
2019 $4,592,000 $4,270,560
2020 $6,434,000 $5,983,620
2021 $7,786,000 $7,240,980
2022 $8,907,000 $8,283,510
2023 $10,675,000 $9,927,750
2024 $12,343,000 $11,478,990
2025 $14,063,000 $13,078,590
2026 $15,200,000 $14,136,000
2027 $16,307,000 $15,165,510
2028 $17,494,000 $16,269,420
2029 $18,767,000 $17,453,310
2030 $20,133,000 $18,723,690 $104,467,198
Those projections are not realistic. A twenty percent (20%) reduction in the revenue stream would require four additional years to break even on the construction of the 3.6 miles of road. Even a 20% reduction in the projection seems low, in light of the unlikely assumptions of the study and the failure of other projections of the Commissioners Court on other toll revenue projects, such as the largely unused IH 45-SH242 toll flyover.
Doyal: the “$6 Billion Man”
The serious question is why would Montgomery County risk its funds and its credit on such an insignificant project as far as aiding regional mobility. Perhaps, the answer lies in the fact that Doyal is the “$6 Billion Man.”
Amazingly, Craig Doyal recently told Houston Public Media that he is “hoping to go back to voters for additional bonds, in order to meet mobility needs estimated at around $6 billion”!!! Doyal wants to spend and incur debt more than three (3) times than what even the bloated Houston-Galveston Area Council bureaucracy projects for the next quarter century!
Citizens should realize what Doyal’s $6 billion of debt would mean. Currently, Montgomery County has a bloated annual budget of $377 million of which $55 million is for debt service and the remaining $322 million is for County government operations.
Doyal’s $6 billion of debt would require approximately $622.314 million of annual debt service alone. In other words, the $6 Billion Man wants the County’s debt service to increase to a level twice the entire annual expenditure budget of Montgomery County.