Image: In the middle of the northbound State Highway 242 tolled flyover, there is one of the craziest signs in the history of Texas highways. The sign points to SH 242 West to the left with an arrow. There is no option to go right, unless the vehicle driver chooses to plunge over the wall and off the road. It’s an example of your tax dollars completely gone to waste.
Conroe, February 3 – Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark has called for removing the tolls from the State Highway 242 flyovers now that the Montgomery County government defeased the bond debt, as part of the debt service reductions Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack had proposed during the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget discussions during the summer of 2017. As a result of the bond debt defeasances Commissioner Noack had proposed from funds from the Pass-Through Toll Revenue received from the state, the County government has paid $6.370 million from the debt service fund and completely defeased the Series 2009, Series 2010, and Series 2012 Bonds that financed the SH 242 flyovers.
On January 25, 2018, all of the debt associated with the SH 242 flyover project was paid off.
Clark told The Golden Hammer, “Since the debt associated with the flyovers is now paid, there is no reason for the County government’s tolls to continue on the flyovers onto SH 242 and from SH 242 to Interstate 45 southbound. I call on my colleagues in the Montgomery County government to remove those tolls, which are more than a million dollars per year, which, at this point, clearly are nothing but taxes on already-overtaxed citizens.”
During calendar year 2017, the flyover tolls totaled $1,233,736.20, or an average of $102,811.35 per month. In 2015, when the County government had projected the revenue for the tollroad during that time period, the projections were approximately $194,028 per month for calendar year 2017. Therefore, the actual toll revenue was approximately $92,000 per month less than the engineering projections. The tolls are $0.50 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and $0.25 from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Clark also made another important point about the SH 242 situation in comparison with the controversial TX 249 Tollway which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are pushing the County government to build rather than allowing the Texas Department of Transportation to build the road instead. TxDOT’s Commissioner Victor Vandergriff told the Commissioners Court on December 19, 2017, that TxDOT would build the TX 249 road as a free farm-to-market road if the Montgomery County government didn’t built the road as a tollroad.
Doyal and Riley want to build the TX 249 Tollway as a tollroad so that they can funnel large amounts of funds to their favored political contributors and criminal legal defense fund contributors, including Halff Associates engineers, Jones & Carter engineers, and others. Doyal and Riley, along with Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador have already funneled more than $13 million of taxpayer general revenue funds into the TX 249 Tollway project.
One of the arguments Doyal and Riley have attempted to make, however, is that by Montgomery County building the TX 249 Tollway, the County government could control when to remove the tolls from that road after the debt is paid, if ever. Therefore, Doyal’s and Riley’s refusal to remove tolls from the SH 242 flyovers suggests that they don’t really ever intend to remove tolls from TX 249 either.
Clark concurred: “Our county government should prove that they’ll actually remove tolls when projects are paid. There’s no reason to continue taxing the public with these SH 242 toll facilities, since we’ve paid off the debt.”
Clark, who has consistently opposed the entire TX 249 Tollway project (at least as a tollroad), added, “The citizens of Montgomery County oppose tollroads. I believe it’s time for us to bring the entire Montgomery County Toll Road Authority to an end. We need to listen to the people of this County and do their will.”
Commissioner Clark has previously requested in a Commissioners Court meeting that the disbanding of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority and that the County government turn over the TX 249 project to the State of Texas.
After The Golden Hammer published this story at midnight, Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Brian Dawson issued the following statement around 12:18 a.m., February 3, 2018:
“I appreciate the story this evening about the 242 flyover. I would just like to point out I brought this topic up and pointed out Commissioner Riley’s drive for additional revenue at the Patriots PAC Forum the other night.“I believe I asked him during the exchange if he would be refunding the tolls received since the defeasance or if he would be sending a message to the people of Montgomery County he intended to continue to generate additional revenue. But I would have to check the video for my actual wording.“It is important the people of Montgomery County know the intentions of their elected officials and I believe Commissioner Riley’s actions show his clear intention to continue to generate additional revenue.”