Controversial Woodlands Parkway Extension reveals incorporation won’t give Woodlands “control over its own destiny”

Detail of the Woodtrace Boulevard Extension (WBX) shown on the Major Thoroughfare Plan, which the Montgomery County Commissioners Court adopted by a unanimous vote on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. set for adoption by the Commissioners Court on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. If Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley decides to connect Woodtrace Boulevard to Woodlands Parkway, there’s nothing an incorporated “City of The Woodlands” could do to stop it.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports

The Woodlands, August 26 – For years Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch and Vice Chairman Bruce Reiser have argued that The Woodlands must incorporate as a city, despite the massive cost and tax increase to Woodlands residents that would result, so that “we can have control of our own destiny.” Their primary example of the desire to “control our own destiny” has always been the controversial Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX), which Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley sought to help real estate developers along the TX-249 Tollway bring traffic from The Woodlands to their area.

After voters in a May, 2015, road bond election defeated WPX in a resounding countywide referendum, Riley proceeded to build the road anyway, because Woodlands traffic is so essential to the financial modeling supporting Riley’s beloved TX-249 Tollway, also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway.” Political pressure from Riley’s constituents in the Alden Bridge neighborhood of The Woodlands, who vote in Commissioners Precinct 2 forced Riley to divert WPX a short distance from F.M. 2978 to make a southward jaunt, which connects to that road at Mansions Way rather than at Woodlands Parkway.

Bunch and Reiser have continued to attempt to instill fear in Woodlands residents that WPX would come, if they didn’t vote to incorporate The Woodlands as a city, because, they’ve argued, only a city with its extraterritorial jurisdiction could prevent Riley from connecting what is now called the Woodtrace Boulevard extension (WBX) with Woodlands Parkway in the future.

This newspaper has previously reported that Riley’s plan since 2015 has been to connect WBX to Woodlands Parkway, after drivers along F.M. 2978 complained about the enormous traffic jams which will occur between Mansions Way and Woodlands Parkway, as traffic moves from WBX northward along F.M. 2978 to Woodlands Parkway. Those traffic jams have already begun, even though Riley has not yet completed WBX nor has he connected the controversial and unpopular road to F.M. 2978.  Please see “Precinct 2 Commissioner Candidate Eckhart Rebukes Incumbent Riley For Broken Campaign Promise, Building Nuisance Road Without Citizen Input,” The Golden Hammer, August 20, 2021, https://thegoldenhammer.net/precinct-2-commissioner-candidate-eckhart-rebukes-incumbent-riley-for-broken-campaign-promise-building-nuisance-road-without-citizen-input/

The question then arises whether incorporation of The Woodlands as a city in the November 2, 2021, referendum would do anything to stop WPX, when Riley decides to connect WBX directly to Woodlands Parkway at its intersection with F.M. 2978. The answer is a resounding “no.”

It turns out that, since 2015, Riley has worked closely with Rob Eissler, the Executive Director of the Westwood Magnolia Parkway Improvement District (WMPID), which has extended its jurisdiction to include the west side of F.M. 2978 where WPX would connect with Woodlands Parkway. The Board of WMPID has approved all of the annexations of land over which the special purpose district has jurisdiction, as has the Texas Legislature, thanks to the work of State Representative Cecil Bell, Republican of Magnolia, and State Senator Brandon Creighton, Republican of Conroe.

WMPID is an unusual special purpose district, because it has road development and construction authority as well as other developmental authority. As a result, even if the intersection of F.M. 2978 and Woodlands Parkway falls within the jurisdiction of a “City of The Woodlands” or its extraterritorial jurisdiction, the previously-existing road powers of WMPID would likely control whether WBX would eventually connect with Woodlands Parkway at that location.

Meanwhile, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack worked with Riley to remove the also controversial Branch Crossing Extension and the very unpopular Gosling Road Extension from the Major Thoroughfare Plan for Montgomery County, which the Commissioners Court approved unanimously on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

If The Woodlands were to spend the likely fifty to seventy-five million dollars residents will pay to incorporate during the next year, they will find they still have no control whatsoever “of their own destiny” when it comes to the near-certain development of WPX as a full extension connecting directly to Woodlands Parkway, when Riley decides to make that connection.

Comments

comments

You must be logged in to post a comment Login