After Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Government Patrick, State Republican Executive Committee speak against tollroads, Commissioner Noack (who has opposed the Tx-249 Tollway) calls for an end to County funding for the project

After Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Government Patrick, State Republican Executive Committee speak against tollroads, Commissioner Noack (who has opposed the Tx-249 Tollway) calls for an end to County funding for the project
Image: Cover of Report “Highway Boondoggles 2” which lists the Tx-249 Tollway Extension as one of the ten worst highway boondoggles in the United States.
Conroe and The Woodlands, December 8 – Montgomery County citizens have overwhelmingly opposed the Tx-249 Tollway project that Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador have attempted to shove down the throats of taxpayers. Without any voter approval, the three rogue members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court have spent approximately $13 million on the $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 Tollway extension at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark have consistently voted against tollroad expenditures. Doyal, Riley, and Meador have consistently outvoted them 3 to 2 during Commissioners Court meetings. Citizens have overwhelmingly opposed tollway expenditures.
In the past few weeks, Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and the State Republican Executive Committee have addressed anti-tollroad concerns. Before discussing their actions, it’s important to understand that the Montgomery County tollway project is.
The $73 million, 3.6 mile section of the Tx-249 Tollway extends from Spring Creek to Pinehurst. That’s the section to which citizens refer as the “Decimation of Hope Highway,” due the massive amount of tax dollars and financial risk Doyal, Riley, and Meador are taking, so that they can funnel monies to their favored political contributors and criminal legal defense fund contributors.  The Texas Department of Transportation (“TxDOT”) is constructing a $443 million, 15 mile section from Pinehurst to Todd Mission in Grimes County.
Only the Montgomery County portion of the Tollway will have tolls north of Harris County. The County and legislative leadership of Grimes County convinced TxDOT not to toll the Grimes County portion of the road.
At the end of June, 2017, Doyal appeared before TxDOT’s policy commission and lied to them that “Montgomery County is unified in support” behind tolling the Tx-249 extension. Doyal wanted TxDOT to build the road as a tollroad so the County could finance the 3.6 mile portion, which Doyal wanted to use to funnel money to his vendor supporters, through the issuance of revenue bonds which would not require a voter referendum. Rich Muller, Doyal’s and Riley’s tollroad lawyer from Sugar Land, acknowledged during an April 13, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting that voters would never support a referendum for the Tx-249 extension.
Abbott, Patrick, and TxDOT
On Thursday, November 16, 2017, TxDOT announced that it intended to expand the construction of toll lanes in conjunction with highway rebuilds for roads that are presented untolled. Within a few hours, Lieutenant Governor Patrick issued a statement that “lawmakers are very unhappy with the Texas Transportation Commission [TxDOT’s governing board] whose members appear to be going in a direction that opposes the will of” Texas legislators and Texas drivers.
Two days later, on November 18, Governor Greg Abbott joined the chorus of opposition to more tollroads in Texas: “I think TxDOT is going a great job to build more roads and unclog our congestion. Obviously, we want them to do that in a way as I promised and that is without adding more toll roads, and I think they have the resources to be able to do that.”
Unlike Doyal and Riley who ignore Montgomery County citizen opinion, TxDOT acquiesced to the loud protests from the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and several state legislators on November 19 when it announced that it was withdrawing the program for more tollroads it had announced only three days earlier.
Montgomery County GOP Executive Committee and State Republican Executive Committee
On August 15, 2017, the Montgomery County GOP Executive Committee, which the Republican Precinct Chairs comprise, took up a resolution which Precinct Chair Paul Gebolys authored and introduced to call for a statewide referendum proposition that says: “No governmental entity should ever construct or fund the construction of toll roads, unless its voters have approved each road by referendum.” Moderate Republican County Chairman Wally Wilkerson tried to kill the tollroads proposition by adjourning the Executive Committee meeting, but Republican Precinct Chair Reagan Reed outmaneuvered Wilkerson and forced a vote up or down on the proposal.
The County Executive Committee voted 34 to 1 in favor of asking the State Republican Executive Committee to place the proposition on the ballot during the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
In a blog post, dated August 16, 2017, the ultra-liberal blog which calls itself “the Courier,” through its ace writer Catherine Dominguez, posted the following totally biased front page article about the tollroad referendum the County Executive Committee had passed and recommended for the March, 2018, Republican Primary Election ballot:

Courier blog’s Catherine Dominguez: “A vote by the Montgomery County Executive Committee of the Republican Party to get a nonbinding referendum on the ballot in March won’t go anywhere because the local group has no authority to take such action, according to the head of the Montgomery County Republican Party [Wally Wilkerson].” (Emphasis added.)

The State Republican Executive Committee voted in its full meeting on Saturday, December 2, 2017, to place the nonbinding referendum on the ballot concerning tollroads, which the Montgomery County Republican Party Executive Committee had voted on August 15 to request, after a contingent of Montgomery County conservative activists appeared at the SREC’s meeting in Austin. The ballot proposition will ask Republican voters statewide whether they support or oppose the following proposition:

“No governmental entity should ever construct or fund the construction of toll roads, unless its voters have approved each road by referendum.”

The Courier blog, Wally Wilkerson, and Craig Doyal told you so; oh, wait, they were wrong!

In a blog post, dated August 16, 2017, the ultra-liberal blog which calls itself “the Courier,” through its ace writer Catherine Dominguez, posted the following totally biased front page article about the tollroad referendum the County Executive Committee had passed and recommended for the March, 2018, Republican Primary Election ballot:

Courier’s Catherine Dominguez: “A vote by the Montgomery County Executive Committee of the Republican Party to get a nonbinding referendum on the ballot in March won’t go anywhere because the local group has no authority to take such action, according to the head of the Montgomery County Republican Party [Wally Wilkerson].” (Emphasis added.)

“The Courier” blog editorialized in the name of news which was actually didn’t even rise to the more respectable level of “speculation.” Rather, “the Courier’s” article was little more than an “establishment” hope. It’s important to note “the Courier” gets its article assignments from County Judge Craig Doyal’s “chief of staff” jim fredricks who obviously desperately didn’t want the tollroad referendum on the statewide ballot.

The statewide ballot proposition, which will be Proposition 2 on the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election ballot, will read:

“No governmental entity should ever construct or fund construction of tollroads without voter approval.”

The Pledge

Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack.

Conservative activists have begun to circulate an instrument called “The Pledge,” which reads:

“I, name of candidate, pledge that I will never support construction or funding of any toll road, unless the voters have approved the toll road by referendum.”

The following candidates for Montgomery County government office in the Republican Primary Election have signed The Pledge in the past four days:

  • State Representative Mark Keough, who is running for Montgomery County Judge;
  • Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark;
  • Precinct 4 County Commissioner candidate Bob Bagley;
  • Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Brian Dawson; and
  • Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Gregory Parker.

Riley and his campaign manager have declined to respond to a request for Riley to sign The Pledge.

Former State Representative Steve Toth who is running for his former seat in the Legislature has signed The Pledge. Precinct 3 County Commissioner Noack has volunteered to sign The Pledge, even though he’s not on the 2018 ballot, as his term extends to the end of 2020.

Noack’s call for an end to County funding for the Decimation of Hope Highway ($73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 Tollway).

Noack told The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, that he believes the Montgomery County government should give the $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 Tollway project back to TxDOT. Many citizens refer to the crazed project as the “Decimation of Hope Highway.”

Noack explained, “I don’t there’d be any delay if TxDOT took the project over. They could reprioritize projects and come up with funding.” Noack has made clear that he does not take a position one way or the other on whether the Tx-249 Extension is a road that TxDOT or anyone should build at all.

“I think the best possible outcome would be for TxDOT to take on the road, let them decide, and let them bear the financial risk. Of course, my preference would be to build, fund, and maintain the Tx-249 road without any tolls,” Noack said.

The Commissioner explained that Montgomery County would receive some reimbursement for the massive amount of funds Doyal, Riley, and Meador have already caused the taxpayers to spend. “TxDOT’s Regional Director Quincy Allen would only pay us reasonable and customary charges for the design services.” That may be a problem, since Doyal has forced exorbitant contracts with his best friend and business partner Bobby Jack Adams’ company, Halff Associates, Inc., without much regard to the price of services Adams or Halff were to provide.

Noack said he’s happy that “Doyal is gauging public opinion.” Of course, that should have happened a long time ago. Noack also explained, “I haven’t talked to Doyal about this matter. Every road built in Montgomery County by our County government has been approved by the voters so far. There’s no reason for us to change that policy for this one road.”

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