Conroe, February 13 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s statements in an 2008 “profile” contradict Halff Associates, Inc.’s engineer James Baker’s comments about whether the Tx-249 $100 million “Decimation of Hope Highway” extension project would proceed if Montgomery County chose not to foot the bill. ProfilesHouston published the propaganda piece in Spring 2008 to argue that Montgomery County and Harris County roadbuilding projects would benefit both communities.
Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who soon thereafter pled guilty to accepting bribes in a federal criminal trial and had to leave office, Montgomery County Commissioner Ed Chance, and Montgomery County Commissioner Mike Meador joined Doyal in the profile publication.
In his interview, Doyal pointed out that the State Highway 249 “Expressway” would open as a toll project connected to the Woodlands Parkway Extension, which, of course, was never built. More significantly, Doyal admitted that, because the Harris County Toll Road Authority declined the “opportunity” to build part of the SH 249 project, “so it will be TxDOT’s responsibility through its Turnpike Authority Division to do” so. Doyal’s comments actually were quite correct, as he agreed with the legal provisions in the written contract between Montgomery County and the Texas Department of Transportation. That agreement makes it clear that Tx-DOT will take over the SH 249 extension project and build it anyway, if Montgomery County declines to do so.
That’s not what Halff Associates, Inc.’s engineer James Baker told the public in a January 19, 2017, written comment, when he said, “Check your facts…The limits of TXDOT job are from Pinehurst to Todd Mission. MCTRA from Spring Creek to Pinehurst. Zero overlap and TXDOT has not funding set aside to build MCTRA’s extremely toll viable segment.”
Baker is an employee of Halff, the engineering firm which Doyal’s best friend and business partner Bobby Adams represents as a Vice president, and to which Doyal has given multimillion dollar engineering contract for the Tx-249 project.
The Tx-249 project will cost $100 million according to Doyal, Halff, and others. There is no funding mechanism for the project other than Montgomery County general fund tax dollars which have provided over $12 million to the engineering boondoggle to date. The project is 3.6 miles at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County and has little to do with mobility for Montgomery County citizens, other than those who receiving engineering contracts or subcontracts directly for the project!
Meanwhile, numerous road and bridge projects that voters approved in the November 2015 bond election have not proceeded at all, because Doyal, Commissioner Charlie Riley, and others have committed County resources, funds, and engineering personnel to the Decimation of Hope Highway.
Meeting of Pretend-Montgomery County Toll Road Authority
Until February 14, 2017, the so-called Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) has met in the middle of Commissioners Court meetings, because MCTRA’s membership is identical to the five-member Court. On Tuesday, however, Doyal and his “chief of staff” Jim Fredricks have scheduled the MCTRA meeting to occur immediately after the Commissioners Court adjourns.
The agenda for the MCTRA meeting is to reappoint all of the Commissioners Court members back to the MCTRA Board and to name the following officers to MCTRA:
Craig Doyal Chairman
Charlie Riley Vice Chairman
Mike Meador Secretary
Phyllis Martin Treasurer
The appointment of County Auditor Phyllis Martin as Treasurer of MCTRA is particularly alarming. Martin, whom the Board of District Judges appoints, should not have conflicts of interest with the Montgomery County government. By putting her on MCTRA, which ostensibly will borrow substantial money from the County to fund Doyal’s and Riley’s Decimation of Hope Highway project further, Martin’s fiduciary duty will be to an entity that is doing business with Montgomery County.
The Phyllis Martin appointment would seem to violate the new Code of Ethics which the Commissioners Court just passed. (Of course, in actuality, the MCTRA borrowing arrangement from Montgomery County would seem to place the entire Commissioners Court in a violation of the Code of Ethics as well!)