King of Government Darkness Craig Doyal and Prince of Government Darkness Charlie Riley plow forward on this massive boondoggle.
Conroe, April 6 – The total waste of County tax dollars on the $100 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 “Decimation of Hope Highway” project received additional confirmation on Monday evening when Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack told an audience of political activists that “I have spoken with Texas Department of Transportation officials directly and they’ve told me that TxDOT will still build the road if Montgomery County turns the project down.” Since TxDOT already has full funding and program development for the highway boondoggle – which is only 3.6 miles (!) – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s favorite project is a complete flushing of County funds, credit, and other resources.
It appears the sole reason that Doyal and Riley wanted to take the TxDOT project away from TxDOT was so that they could funnel the project’s funds into the hands of their chosen political contributors. The so-called “project manager” is none other than Halff Associates, Inc., the engineering firm which employs Bobby Jack Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner, and as vice president.
One of Halff’s engineers, James Baker, told the public in a January 19, 2017, written comment, “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.”
Not only did Noack’s recent comment correct Baker’s false statement by which he sought to convince Montgomery County citizens that they should fork millions of dollars over to Halff, but also Doyal’s statements in an 2008 “profile” contradict 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 road building 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 in the profile propaganda piece, 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.
The Tx-249 extension would expand the Tx-249 section from the Harris County-Montgomery County line at Spring Creek heading northward to the intersection with F.M. 1774, a total of 3.6 miles of road that already exists. Through the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, a corporation whose board of directors is identical to the membership of the five-member Commissioners Court and which borrows all of its funds from the Montgomery County government, the tiny extension would create a toll road that Doyal and Riley hope would eventually repay some or all of the County funds spent on the project.
The $100 million of funds for the 3.6 miles of road would come from Montgomery County general funds, approximately $10 million of which the Commissioners Court has expended, and potentially from certificates of obligation or revenue bonds that would depend upon the County’s credit for repayment. No voters have approved or voted upon the $100 million “Decimation of Hope Highway.”
The toll revenue projections for Doyal’s and Riley’s project are terrible. Those projections assume that the Woodlands Parkway Extension (“WPX”) west of F.M. 2978 will bring traffic from The Woodlands to the 3.6 miles of toll road. The problem with that assumption is that (1) voters have rejected construction of the WPX in the May 2015 bond referendum, and (2) Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley has now vowed that the WPX will never occur.
Additionally, the revenue assumptions contain several other unlikely scenarios and would require that the Harris County Toll Road Authority set toll rates for the 3.6 miles of road in Montgomery County.
Even with the questionable assumptions, the $100 million toll road wouldn’t likely pay for itself for 15 to 20 years before the Montgomery County government would see any positive cash flow.
The TX-249 extension is, however, a $100 million jackpot for major political contributors to Doyal and Riley, including Halff Associates engineers, the company of Doyal’s business partner Bobby Adams, Binkley and Barfield Engineers, and Land Tech Surveyors.
Allocation of County funds and credit to the $100 million project would likely divert important financial resources and attention away from road projects that truly are critical to community mobility. The Decimation of Hope Highway is only 3.6 miles. Hundreds of miles of County roads do not receive the attention they deserve, because Judge Doyal and Commissioner Riley are far more focused on delivering that project to the engineers and contractors from other communities who send substantial contributions to their campaigns.
Doyal and Riley won’t discuss the Decimation of Hope Highway project publicly. That’s not surprising. They’re known statewide as the King of Government Darkness and Prince of Government Darkness, respectively, because they fought to have the Texas Open Meetings Act, Section 143, declared unconstitutional. As the law books currently stand, as of Doyal’s and Riley’s legal victory on April 4, 2017, local government officials, thanks to Doyal and Riley, may knowingly conspire to circumvent the Open Meetings Act by meeting in numbers less than a quorum for the purpose of secret deliberations.
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!