Conroe, April 18 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court engaged in a lively discussion regarding the $76 to $85 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, that County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are shoving down the throats of Montgomery County citizens. It’s clear that the Texas Department of Transportation (“TxDOT”) would build the road for free, but Doyal and Riley want to control the road funds, so they can funnel them to the biggest dollar contributors to their criminal legal funds. Doyal and Riley are under indictment for official misconduct by allegedly violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Tollroad lawyer Richard Muller of Sugar Land began the discussion by lying to the Commissioners Court and the citizens that “TxDOT decided this was going to be a tollroad in 2014/2015.” In fact, the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees TxDOT, made the decision to toll the TX 249 Extension on June 27, 2017.
Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack then asked Doyal, “If TxDot would build this road and not toll it, would you turn this over to them?”
Doyal responded, “If they would build it as a free road, yes, but they told us they won’t.” In fact Doyal and Riley went before TxDOT on June 27, 2017, and requested that TxDOT establish the road as a tollroad, because, they said, Montgomery County citizens are “unified in support of a tollroad.”
Noack then interject, “I understand. but to my knowledge…if we went to TxDOT together after the Lieutenant Governor and Governor have stated ‘no more tollroads’ they’ve given that directive to TxDOT. We have had a referendum that was supported not only by the County but by the entire state. Let’s go to TxDOT together and see if they’ll build this road without a toll. Let’s put the pressure on them. If we send a letter from this Court…we deserve to do that for the people. We haven’t approached it from that angle. Let’s get Senator Creighton and the entire delegation on our side. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick lives here.”
Doyal then lied, “I’ve been to Austin. Stood before the highway commissioner. Said I would gladly turn this road over if you can build this as a free road.” In fact, Doyal and Riley lobbied for a tollroad, so that they could take the 3-mile section and use it to funnel money into the hands of their favored political contributors. Doyal and Riley told TxDOT on June 27, 2017, Montgomery County is “unified in support” for a tollroad.
Noack noted, “But that was before the Governor and Lieutenant Governor put down the edict and before the vote. That vote is very powerful.” Noack referred to Proposition 2 which emanated from Montgomery County’s Republican Party and which passed statewide with 91% of the vote and a slightly higher vote in this County.
Doyal parried, “But there’s no money to build it, Commissioner.”
Noack answered, “We can make them take money from another project. Let’s try.”
Riley then made the most obtuse comment of the entire meeting, “We don’t have 10 or 12 years to wait.” Both Noack and Clark responded rapidly to Riley’s ignorance.
Noack: “Do you really think that TxDOT is going to leave a 3 mile segment unbuilt? No way! They’re not going to do it.”
Doyal then had to jump in to express his bureaucratic obsession with the state bureaucracy, “We renege on the commitment we made to TxDOT and hold them over the barrel. That’s what your suggesting.”
Noack responded, “I suggest we go to them with another offer. If not, I will lead a petition against this road and TxDOT will take it over anyway. It’s gonna happen…”
Doyal admitted, “If you want to start the petition, that’s certainly your right to do.”
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Clark expressed the ultimate common sense, “You’re telling me they’ll build the section before and the section after and NOT complete the section in the middle. They’re not going to do that,” referring to TxDOT.
Doyal once again showed that adherence to his cronies and the bureaucrats of TxDOT is far more important to him than loyalty to the citizens of Montgomery County. He said, “This is why you can’t get anything done with TxDOT. You don’t renege on your commitment and hold them over the fire.” Doyal would prefer to hold the citizens of Montgomery County “over the fire.”
Clark responded, “I don’t know why the County is in the business of a state road anyway. How did we ever get in this mess? It was before I got here.”
Scariest question of the day: what if…
A few minutes later, Noack asked the County’s financial advisor, “What happens if there isn’t sufficient revenue [to pay the tollroad bonds]?”
The financial advisor provided the frightening truth of the total mess that Doyal and Riley intend to leave the citizens of Montgomery County:
“The bonds would lose their credit rating and we would have to restructure the bond issues to make sure those payments are current. We would take evasive action. If you remember there have been other tollroads that have struggled in the state and…we would work to try to mitigate that situation.“
The financial advisor referred to the situation involving Texas highway 121 which ended up in bankruptcy. A group of private investors purchased that tollroad south of Austin out of the bankruptcy estate. Now, there’s a tollroad in Texas completely at the mercy of a private group of investors who may charge whatever tolls they want.