Image: Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark spoke before a crowd of citizens interested in mobility issues on Thursday, May 3, 2018.
Conroe, May 4 – Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark enjoyed thunderous applause before a crowd of more than 125 concerned citizens who wanted an update on mobility issues. The applause came when Clark described his fight to remove the State Highway 242 flyover tolls which are currently discouraging people from using those roads and which are causing substantial traffic congestion as a result.
Renowned community leader and activist Keith Lincoln organized and led the event. Lincoln invited the Boy Scouts to lead the Pledge of Allegiance including the presentation of the honor guard. Lincoln introduced Clark as “one of our leaders who has listened to our calls to help us address concerns over our traffic and safety.”
Adam Galland, the Montgomery County Area Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Engineer, also participated in the event.
Clark discussed the fact that Commissioners Precinct 4 has the most roads of all four Commissioners Precincts in Montgomery County, 885 miles. Precinct 1 has 465 miles of roads, Precinct 2 820 miles, Precinct 3 612 miles, and Precinct 4 885 miles. If one doesn’t include the area of the Sam Houston National Forest and Lake Conroe, then Precinct 4 is the largest Commissioners Precinct in Montgomery County.
The budget for Clark’s office includes more than $3 million per year for road maintenance. Clark told the crowd that he achieved his goal of paving 20 new miles of road during the past year.
Clark explained that “My philosophy with the road bond funds that the citizens approved in 2015 was to leverage those dollars into much larger projects that our vast Precinct needs. The way that I negotiated the widening of State Highway 242 is an example.” Clark noted that TxDOT is paying for for 90% of the costs of widening SH 242 from 2 lanes to 4 lanes with the County only contributing a 10% share. After extensive negotiations, however, Clark convinced TxDOT to extend the 4-lanes all the way to Interstate 69 with TxDOT picking up 100% of that additional cost.
Clark also noted, “The biggest cause of the congestion on 242 right now is the traffic stack up at the intersection of FM 1314. Therefore, getting TxDOT to construct an overpass at that intersection has been my highest priority. The construction will begin in less than 2 months on that much-needed overpass.”
The Precinct 4 Commissioner told the crowd, who expressed concerns about Trade Center Boulevard, “we’re going to do curb repairs, slab leveling, slab repair, and restricting to improve the quality of that important road.”
Several individuals in the audience asked about the status of the David Memorial Drive extension from Shenandoah to SH 242. Clark answered that he anticipates that construction on the final portion of the extension will begin in approximately 12 months after negotiations with the federal government over wetlands mitigation issues are complete and after discussions between the County, the private developer, the City of Shenandoah, and the City of Conroe reach agreement.
Shenandoah Mayor Ritch Wheeler, who attended the meeting, acknowledged that “Commissioner Clark has been leading those discussions.” Clark responded, “I am now the advocate to make David Memorial Drive happen.”
But removal of the SH 242 flyover tolls received the biggest round of applause from the vocal meeting. Clark explained that he faced resistance on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to remove those flyover tolls but that he also realized that removing those tolls would alleviate substantial traffic congestion at the intersection of SH 242 and Interstate 45.
It’s interesting that Clark’s opponent in the May 22, 2018, Republican Runoff Election is James Metts, who not only won’t sign the anti-tollroads pledge that Clark and Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Gregory Parker signed but also Metts is actually one of the contractors on the TX 249 Tollway construction project!