Conroe, May 20 – In a desperate, gasping move, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley have put the expenditure of $46,350 for the Tx-249 3.6 mile Decimation of Hope Highway extension back on the Agenda for the May 23, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting. The measure went down to defeat in a 2 to 2 vote on May 9, 2017, after Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador left the meeting early, so only Doyal and Riley were there to vote for it, against the 2 votes of Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark. (See “BREAKING NEWS: County Commissioners Court Defeats Spending on Decimation of Hope Highway Project for First Time Ever, Doyal Breaches Protocol But Still Comes Up Short,” The Golden Hammer, May 10, 2017.)
The proposed expenditure is for additional testing for an offsite detention pond for the pointless $73 million project. It’s “pointless,” because the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has already made clear that it would build the project without the financial investment of Montgomery County and already has the funds available for state taxes and federal grants set aside to do so.
Doyal, Riley, and Meador want to build the ridiculous 3.6 mile roadway and toll it with the idea that they would continue to charge tolls and reap “profits” from the pockets of Montgomery County taxpayers (and other users) forever. Meanwhile, however, Doyal, Riley, and Meador have led the charge to spend $12.6 million of Montgomery County funds out of the general revenue fund (affectionately known as “tax dollars”) to pay for this crazed project.
Doyal, who is a business partner and best friend of engineer Bobby Adams, vice president of Halff Associates, Inc., the “project manager” under a multi-million dollar contract with Montgomery County which such contract Doyal and Riley pushed through, placed an item on the Commissioners Court agenda to give Geotest Engineering a $46,350 change order to conduct some geotechnical engineering work for the reckless road construction project.
Citizen opposition to the road project is massive, because (1) Montgomery County taxpayers generally oppose more toll roads, (2) the Texas Department of Transportation has indicated that they would build the road if Montgomery County does not spend its money to build the road, (3) there’s a good chance that, if TxDOT built the road, it wouldn’t even be a toll road, and (4) Montgomery County road resources should go towards more important projects that the citizens actually do want, such as the widening of F.M. 1488, especially from the Waller County line to Mostyn Manor where F.M. 1488 is only a 2-lane road.
Sugar Land attorney Richard Muller, who works for the Commissioner Court, admitted during the April 11, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting that Montgomery County voters would likely not support the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 extension also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway” at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County. Doyal retorted during the April 11 meeting that “There’s huge support from the City of Tomball, the Tomball Chamber, the Magnolia Chamber, the City of Magnolia, the Navasota Chamber, and fire departments.”
Tomball and Navasota are not in Montgomery County.
There’s a serious question whether the citizens of Magnolia would support the Tx-249 extension. Paying $73 million to create a toll road where there’s a free one now and buying into more traffic congestion don’t sound like very appealing propositions. In fact, what makes the situation far worse for Magnolia citizens is that the $12.6 million already spent could have – and probably should have – gone to wide F.M. 1488 from the Waller County line moving eastward to Mostyn Manor. Even Riley has admitted that’s the greatest mobility need in all of Montgomery County.
Muller also told the Commissioners Court that, if Montgomery County chose not to build the tiny, but massively expensive toll road project, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) would build the road anyway. Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack noted that if TxDOT builds the 3.6 mile road, instead of Montgomery County’s Toll Road Authority (MCTRA), “there’s no certainty the road will ever be tolled.”
The Sugar Land attorney, whom the County government has paid more than $84,000 just for the Decimation of Hope Highway project alone, explained that the design part of the project is 90% complete and the road will likely cost $63 million to construct during 2018 beyond the $10 million the County has already spent for the design work, for a total of $73 million. At $73 million for 3.6 miles of road, or $20.27 million per mile, the Decimation of Hope Highway will be one of the most expensive roads in all of American history.
The Reason Foundation’s 21st Annual Highway Study ranked the state of New Jersey as having, by far, the most expensive highways constructed in America, at a cost of $2 million per mile. The Decimation of Hope Highway, primarily under the management and oversight of Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and their close buddy Halff Associates’ Bobby Adams, Doyal’s business partner and best friend, would cost more than ten times the highest construction costs statewide in the United States.
Meanwhile, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association has stated that the highest cost to build a road per mile in the United States should be around $10 million per mile in urban areas, although the cost of such construction should be closer to $4 million to $6 million in rural or suburban areas more akin to the desolate 3.6 miles of road and surroundings from the edge of Spring Creek northward to the junction with F.M. 1774, where Doyal, Riley, and Meador want to build their $73 million toll road.