Image: On September 25, 2013, Doyal must have borrowed someone else’s cowboy hat to stand next to Harris County Commissioner “Cactus Jack” Cagle to announce his plans for his beloved Decimation of Hope Highway, the $73 to 85 million, 3 mile Tollway, that only Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley want. Of course, what Cagle wants from Doyal and Riley, Cagle gets from Doyal and Riley.
Conroe, March 19 – After citizens repudiate an incumbent in office at the voting box, the public servant usually doesn’t press forward with his or her unpopular policies. Lame duck Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s true constituents have never been the Montgomery County citizens, however, so his response to losing the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election is to push forward more aggressively than ever before, so that the engineers and contractors who are County vendors (Doyal’s real constituents) may enjoy money flowing out of the taxpayers’ pockets for decades into the future.
One unpopular policy that voters clearly repudiated at the March 6 polls – at least three times – is the $73 to $85 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollroad, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. Voters voted against Doyal who lost by garnering only 42% of the vote. Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley made the runoff but also only received 44% of the vote in Commissioners Precinct 2, the area that supposedly would most benefit (actually would suffer harm) from the Doyal-Riley tollroad, to two reform candidates who opposed the tollway who received over 56% of the vote. Proposition 2, a statewide ballot initiative that arose out of Montgomery County, called for government never to construct or finance the construction of a tollroad without voter approval first. Proposition 2 passed with 91.30% of the vote for, an overwhelming landslide.
Since Doyal doesn’t seem to represent the citizens but only represents the engineers, contractors, and out-of-county developers who want the TX 249 Tollway, Doyal and his sidekick Riley are full-speed-ahead on the Decimation of Hope Highway regardless of the clear message the voters sent to them on Election Day.
Even embattled Riley, the Precinct 2 Commissioner, told a group of citizens at a Magnolia Area Republican Women meeting that he would not support tollroad expenditures if County tax dollars were spent on such a project, unless and until voters approved the tollroad proposal. Riley attempted to recant those comments at a Commissioners Court meeting the following week.
Fundamentally, the problem with the TX 249 Tollway is two-fold. First, the Texas Department of Transportation has made clear publicly in Commissioners Court on December 19 that TxDOT would build the TX 249 Extension as a free road, if Montgomery County’s government didn’t proceed to build the project as a tollroad. Doyal and Riley want to build the project as a tollroad, however, under their direction, so that they can funnel the massive funds for construction of the project to their favored County vendors, such as Halff Associates, Inc., and Jones & Carter engineers, two companies who have contributed mightily to Doyal’s and Riley’s criminal legal defense funds.
In order to justify construction of the 3 miles section Doyal and Riley are constructing as a tollroad from Spring Creek to Pinehurst, Doyal and Riley lobbied TxDOT in Austin to build the 15.3 mile stretch of TX 249 Extension from Pinehurst to Todd Mission as a tollroad as well. Amazingly, TX 249 is one of the only tollroad projects TxDOT is now building, because Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and numerous Republican legislators have made clear they don’t want any more tollroads in Texas. It is conceivable that Montgomery County will have some of the last tollroads constructed in Texas, largely thanks to the selfishness of Craig Doyal and Charlie Riley.
The second problem with the TX 249 Tollway is that Doyal and Riley have, in fact, spent Montgomery County government general revenue funds have for the project. So far, more than $13.3 million of tax dollars have flowed from the Commissioners Court into the project. On Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Doyal is continuing the freespending use of tax dollars for the increasingly unpopular project.
Doyal and Riley have enlisted a new ally, by the way: JP James Metts who is running for Precinct 4 County Commissioner against incumbent County Commissioner Jim Clark in the May 22, 2018, Republican Runoff Election. Metts’ logging company gained a lucrative logging and clearing contract with TxDOT on the TX 249 Tollway from Pinehurst to Todd Mission. It’s, therefore, no wonder that Metts has refused to sign the anti-tollroad pledge that Clark, State Representative Mark Keough, former State Representative Steve Toth, and others have signed. Metts seems willing to do what’s best for Metts’ wallet regardless of the consequences to the citizens of East Montgomery County or anywhere else.
In the Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Commissioners Court Agenda, Doyal and his engineering and construction contractor constituents have included six (6) items to move his beloved tollroad forward. There are two use agreements for rights-of-way, a road development agreement, a special warranty deed to Wood Trace MUD Number 3, a possession and use agreement with TxDOT, and a transfer deed to TxDOT for the Wood Trace tract. Those items all move what will ultimately be the Woodlands Parkway Extension, now renamed Wood Trace Boulevard, forward, so that it will connect with the Doyal-Riley TX 249 Tollway.
Doyal is now waiting to receive the final report from CDM Smith, the engineering firm under criminal investigations in the United States, Europe, and India for bribery. CDM Smith did settle its criminal case with the United States Department of Justice during 2017. Doyal and Riley pushed through a contract valued at more than $400,000 during 2017 in order to ensure that CDM Smith will provide a traffic and revenue study that justifies issuance of the bonds Doyal hopes to complete before he leaves office at the end of December, 2018. With that, Doyal and Riley will have successfully forced an unwanted and unnecessary tollroad down the throats of Montgomery County citizens.