Image: Montgomery County’s Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley.
Conroe, October 27 – Drunk with power and tax dollars, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley received “The Golden Hammer Award” on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, during the Commissioners Court meeting for the multi-million dollar Tx-249 Tollway frontage road scam they’re perpetrating on County taxpayers. Neither Doyal nor Riley seemed particularly euphoric about their receipt of the award which keynotes government spending follies that “hammer the taxpayers.”
Despite broad citizen opposition to the Tx-249 Tollway, Doyal and Riley, with the helpful vote of Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, who hasn’t found a spending proposal yet that he doesn’t like, are barreling forward on the $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx-249 Tollway from Spring Creek to Pinehurst, while they’re encouraging the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to build the 15 mile road from Pinehurst to Todd Mission for $443 million as a Tollway as well. On June 27, Doyal and Riley lied to TxDOT at a Transportation Commission meeting in Austin that Montgomery County was “unified in support” of tolling the Tx-249 extension, when, in fact, the project never receives more than three out of five votes on Commissioners Court and often fails on 2 to 2 votes.
Doyal and Riley forced the County to build the 3.6 mile portion of the unnecessary road so that they could direct the multi-million dollar contracts to their favored County vendors who are their major political campaign contributors and the primary backers of their criminal legal defense funds. Grimes County leaders successfully convinced that they didn’t want a tollroad in that community, so TxDOT is not tolling the Grimes County portion of the road.
In their attempt to solicit public support for the road, Doyal and Riley promised Montgomery County citizens that (1) the Tx-249 Extension would come at no cost to the taxpayers, (2) bonds will pay for the entire road, and (3) Riley swore to citizens at a Magnolia Republican Women’s Club meeting that he would support a voter referendum if the Tollway would cost the citizens any tax dollars.
During the October 10, 2017, Commissioner Court meeting during a presentation by Rich Muller, Doyal’s and Riley’s tollroad lawyer from Sugar Land who has received almost $150,000 of Montgomery County general revenue tax funds for his Tollway legal fees already, Muller discussed the right-of-way agreements for the 15 mile portion that the County government just approved with Varde Partners, a Minnesota real estate developer that owns substantial real estate in the rural southwest part of Montgomery County along the proposed Tollway. Muller noted that there is no agreement from Varde Partners to construct the frontage roads along the Tollway and that there is no funding or commitment to build frontage roads from TxDOT or the real estate developers along the Tollway! Since both Varde Partners, which is a Doyal political contributor, and San Antonio real estate developer Rick Sheldon, also a Doyal political contributor, plan to construct real estate developments along that section of the Tx-249 Tollway, the County’s taxpayers will likely get stuck with paying for the frontage roads.
Amazingly, Doyal and Riley put not requirement in their written agreement with Varde Partners that Varde would build their own frontage roads. Therefore, the question that raises is: how big will the bill be that the County taxpayers must bear for the Tollway’s frontage roads?
According to the Federal Highway Administration, the cost of a rural front road is actually higher than the cost of the highway and is a minimum of approximately $2.5 million per mile of road. Along the 15 miles of Tollway, there would be 30 miles of frontage roads (on each side). Along the 3.6 miles of Tollway, there is a need for approximately 1 additional mile of front roads, although that number may be low if the current frontage roads that are Tx-249 do not meet state highway specifications.
With that 31 miles of frontage road, at a price of $2.5 million per mile, Doyal and Riley are saddling County taxpayers with $77.5 million of road expense liability.
Riley has sworn to the citizens on September 18 that he’d support a referendum if the Tollway were to cost the citizens any tax dollars. Riley actually repeated that promise on September 26 during a verbal altercation he started when he interrupted Republican Precinct Chair Ginger Russell of Magnolia (“The Quiet Lady from Magnolia”) when she attempted to speak in Commissioners Court on the subject of the Tx-249 Tollway.
Therefore, it would seem to make sense that the citizens of Montgomery County should have the right to vote in a referendum whether they want to spend many tens of millions of dollars on frontage roads for the Doyal-Riley Tx-249 Tollway. That referendum could serve as a referendum on whether voters want the entire Tollway project at all.
Of course, Muller admitted in Commissioners Court in April that he, Doyal, and Riley knew the Tollway would never muster a majority of citizens voting in a referendum on the special-interest project at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County.
Drunk with power and the citizens’ money, Doyal and Riley don’t really seem to care how much they’re hammering Montgomery County taxpayers. Furthermore, Riley seems willing to say just about anything to try to fool his constituents.