Conroe and Magnolia, April 8 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley have had a final traffic and revenue study report since before the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, from ethically-challenged engineering contractor CDM Smith, Inc., for the approximately $85 million TX 249, 3 mile, Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, but they’ve intentionally kept the study from their colleagues on the Commissioners Court and the general public. Two sources, one in Doyal’s office and one in Riley’s, confirmed the secreting of the report on the condition of anonymity for fear of Doyal’s and Riley’s retaliation against them.
It’s incredible that Riley has placed the construction contract for the Decimation of Hope Highway on the agenda for the Commissioners Court to approve it for April 10, 2018, while he has hidden the traffic and revenue study from the Court members and the public. Additionally, Riley wants the Commissioners Court to approve the issues of an unknown amount of revenue bonds to finance the crazed road project without giving the members of the Commissioners Court a fair opportunity to study the “t and r report,” which forms the basis for an understanding whether the Tollway would support the payments on the revenue bonds and under what conditions and hypotheses.
In 2014, CDM Smith, Inc., prepared a traffic and revenue study which assumed that the Woodlands Parkway Extension, which Montgomery County voters overwhelming rejected in May, 2015, would provide traffic to support the revenue from the proposed tollroad. There were several other assumptions in the 2014 study which are unlikely ever to occur.
Despite massive community opposition to the construction of the Tx-249 Tollway, which will extend out into undeveloped pastureland near Todd Mission, Texas, Doyal and Riley are swiftly moving to construct the project in order to inject their closest political supporters with cash: Halff Associates engineers and Doyal’s best friend and business partner Bobby Jack Adams, real estate developer Rick Shelton, Jones & Carter engineers, Land Tech Surveyors, and others.
CDM Smith did a study in 2014 which supported the construction of the Tx-249 Tollway but was a complete botch, because the highly-paid firm made several assumptions, including construction of the now-extinct Woodlands Parkway Extension, that will never occur. Now, Doyal and Riley must desperately seek a new study that will cost Montgomery County taxpayers $405,500 and which will, of course, conclude that the tollroad will be able to support the massive bond payments Doyal and Riley are placing upon the shoulders of the citizens.
Price of the CDM Smith study
The $405,500 price tag for the study is completely outrageous. Under Section 2254.003 of the Texas Government Code, professionals providing services to the County government must only charge a “fair and reasonable” price. In this instance, neither Doyal, Riley, nor anyone else inside the County government made any effort to examine the price CDM Smith will charge for the work most of which it did three years ago.
The Golden Hammer sought the opinions of three independent engineers for fair and reasonable pricing for the job. The highest opinion of the three was $84,775, while the lowest was $58,700.
Why would CDM Smith overcharge Montgomery County?
Why would CDM Smith overcharge Montgomery County? First, of course, they’re able to get away with it. Second, CDM Smith has regularly overcharged under many contracts and landed in quite a bit of legal trouble as a result. The letter form the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, dated June 21, 2017, is below.
CDM Smith agreed to disgorge $4 million of funds it used for bribing contract officials. The World Bank also sanctioned the company for “failing to disclose a subcontract on a project in Vietnam” and conditionally debarred CDM Smith from doing business under World Bank and International Monetary Fund financing arrangements for a year and a half.
On July 15, 2017, the Indian government asked state chief secretary Dharmendra Sharma to investigate bribes from CDM Smith in India.
On August 3, 2017, Cabinet Minister Niti Gadkan told the lower house of the Indian Parliament that the Central Vigilance Commission, the anti-corruption government agency in India, has taken “suo moto cognizance” of the situation and has formed a three-member investigation committee to examine CDM Smith’s bribery of highway officials.
CDM Smith admitted to the U.S. Justice Department that it earned $4 million of profits through the use of fake service invoices used in generating cash for bribing government officials.
Incredibly, Doyal and Riley seemed to know nothing about these matters. When they learned about them during the presentation of “The Golden Hammer Award” during the August 22 Commissioners Court meeting, they didn’t seem to care.
Apparently bribery, corruption, graft, and criminal activity cannot stop Doyal and Riley from committing Montgomery County to building the Tx-249 Taxway to funnel money to their favorite political allies.
Here’s the United States Justice Department letter, dated June 21, 2017.