A miserable question: how much will the 3 miles of TX 249 Tollway (Decimation of Hope Highway) actually cost?

Cathy Bates in the 1990 film version of Stephen King’s “Misery.” The torture in that movie is an excellent analogy to the feeling of most taxpayers during the dictatorial rule and out-of-control spending of Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley and lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal.

Conroe and Houston, April 19 – During the presentation in the April 10, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting where the tollroad lawyer and financial advisor announced that the County government would need to take “evasive action” if toll revenues cannot service the bond debt, there was a miserable question that remained unanswered throughout the presentation: how much will the 3 miles of TX 249 Tollway, the Decimation of Hope Highway, actually cost?

Here’s what we know. Originally, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and toll lawyer Rich Muller of Sugar Land referred to the 3 mile TX 249 Tollway as a “$100 million project.” As the project became more controversial during the summer of 2017, Doyal and Muller changed the cost projection to $76 million. But then State Representative Mark Keough reviewed the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) letting schedule and revealed at a candidate forum that the County and TxDOT both listed the cost at $95 million, which included the construction of the initial part of the Woodlands Parkway Extension, which Montgomery County voters rejected handily in a May 2015 referendum.

In the past few days, there’s been a lot more confusion.

To answer the miserable question, how much will the mismanaged 3 mile road project cost, let’s look at the numbers we actually know:

  • Montgomery County taxpayers have directly paid $10.25 million for engineering and preliminary work on the 3-mile road. The Commissioners Court approved those payments.
  • Montgomery County taxpayers paid an additional $3.25 million, approximately, in the form of SH 242 flyover tolls which Doyal and Riley diverted to pay for engineering and preliminary work on the 3-mile road.
  • Additionally, as several County officials have confirmed as well as two individuals with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, TxDOT provided an approximately $12 million grant for the work to produce an environmental impact statement and wetlands mitigation for the 3-mile road.
  • SpawGlass Construction, the lowest bidder for the construction of the actual tollroad bid the project at $55.97 million.

Those numbers total $81.47 million. Clearing for this type of project may cost quite a bit of money, especially if Riley and Doyal are managing the project. Who knows how many millions of dollars that will cost?

There are also financial costs for the investment banking fees for issuance of such bonds. No one has disclosed those costs to the public yet.

Nevertheless, one might guess that the project could come in for less than $90 million total.

That guess actually appears incorrect.

On April 10, 2018, the Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC) issued their so-called “Transportation Improvement Program, 2019-2022” study which listed major road construction projects in the Greater Houston Area during that four year period. The Decimation of Hope Highway is one of the projects on the HGAC list. The project definitely includes construction of the overpass and initial portion of the Woodlands Parkway Extension.

HGAC listing for the SH 249 program, all three miles of it, as of April 10, 2018.

According to the HGAC, the estimated funding for the 3 miles of the Montgomery County project for the TX 249 Tollway will cost $129,928,541. It’s important to notice that HGAC (shown directly above) shows that 100% of the project will come from the local share, that’s the crazed Montgomery County government, which is taking on the entire financial burden.

Where did that number come from? It turns out that the Montgomery County Engineer’s Office submitted that estimate, based upon the instruction from Doyal, to HGAC in January, 2018, as The Golden Hammer has confirmed with three sources inside of the Montgomery County government who have requested anonymity – two inside the Engineer’s Office and one inside Doyal’s Office.

Why is it crazed? Because HGAC also shows the funding sources for the 15.3 miles of the TX 249 Tollway that TxDOT is constructing immediately north of the 3 miles where Riley and Doyal are funneling tens of millions of dollars into their cronies’ pockets. TxDOT is certainly not going it alone. In fact, the vast majority of the funds for the TxDOT portion of the TX 249 Tollway are coming from the federal government’s transportation infrastructure funds, according too the HGAC “Transportation Improvement Program, 2019-2022” study.

In other words, what is clear is that Montgomery County has given up the opportunity to receive many tens of millions of federal highway dollars, which the citizens paid taxes to get back, by insisting on building the TX 249 Tollway on its own.

Since Montgomery County citizens should have a fair opportunity to begin to plan for their “evasive action” from the creditors of the TX 249 Tollway disaster, it would be nice if Riley and Doyal would disclose to the citizens how much that cost debt will actually be.



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