Conroe, January 25 – County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley received “The Golden Sledgehammer” for their efforts to spend $100 million on the 3.6 mile TX-249 “Decimation of Hope Highway” at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County without any voter approval, by referendum or otherwise, while the fifty-five (55) $280 million November 2015 road bond referendum projects largely lie fallow.
“Doyal and Riley deserve a ‘Golden Sledgehammer because this item TX-249 extension truly sledgehammers the taxpayers for a $100 million boondoggle,” explained The Golden Hammer Publisher Eric Yollick when presenting the award at the Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court meeting on January 24, 2017.
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.
Voters approved a $280 million road bond for 55 major road projects in November 2015. None of those projects have begun construction with the exception of one of the smallest at the County Airport (another spending boondoggle) and a project which the City of Willis actually constructed.
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.
The presentation of “The Golden Sledgehammer” memorialized the fact that Doyal and Riley are “sledgehammering the taxpayers” with this $100 million spending explosion.
Yollick concluded his remarks, “I beg the Commissioners Court to reconsider this project…and bring it to a dead end quickly.”
DO YOU BELIEVE THE COUNTY SHOULD PROCEED WITH THE $100 MILLION 3.6 MILE TX-249 DECIMATION OF HOPE HIGHWAY ON THE FAR SOUTHWEST EDGE OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL THROUGH A REFERENDUM FIRST?