Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
On January 26, 2016, Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and the remaining members of the Commissioners Court seem to have made a terrible mistake when they accepted the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Plan 2016. That Plan, which the County now shows on its website on the County Engineer’s Home Page, includes three immensely unpopular road projects:
- Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX), which voters rejected in the May, 2015, road bond referendum overwhelmingly. The turnout and result in Commissioners Precincts 2 and 3 was very high and overwhelmingly against the entire road bond referendum, because it included the proposal to build a major thoroughfare – at least six lanes wide, if not more – from the current terminus of Woodlands Parkway at F.M. 2978 westward to F.M. 249.
Considering Noack’s staunch opposition to WPX during the May, 2015, road bond referendum, it’s downright crazy that Noack voted to accept the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Plan a mere eight months later to include WPX on it. As the 2014 traffic and revenue study for the $107 million, 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway (shown with a black line perpendicular to the words Woodtrace Boulevard), also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, one of the main purposes of extending Woodlands Parkway would be to support TX 249 economically, since the revenue projections are questionable otherwise without the traffic WPX would supposedly carry to the Tollway. The bonds which the Commissioners Court recently approved for the TX 249 Tollway include construction of an overpass and very short initial construction of WPX at its southwest terminus.
- Branch Crossing Extension (BCX), which would widen Branch Crossing Road to a four-lane road according to Thomas Gray, HGAC’s Chief Transportation Planner, right through the middle of the Village of Alden Bridge in The Woodlands and extend that road through territory which normally floods all the way through to F.M. 1488. One of the purposes of the BCX is to carry traffic to the WPX and onwards to the Decimation of Hope Highway (TX 249).
- Gosling Road Extension (GRX), which would extend Gosling Road through the middle of the W.G. Jones State Forest in at least two locations, immediately north of F.M. 1488 at the intersection of Peoples Road, which is where the Gosling Road Extension shows as planned, and through a southern portion of the State Forest immediately north of State Highway 242.
On January 26, 2016, Noack made clear that he continued to oppose WPX during the discussion in the Commissioners Court meeting. Nevertheless, Noack voted to accept the HGAC Plan in its entirety and even complimented Gray and the remaining HGAC staff for their work!
Noack faces the voters in Commissioners Precinct 3 for re-election in 2020. Noack should immediately place an item on the Commissioners Court agenda for the June 12, 2018, meeting to clarify that the Commissioners Court does not accept, approve, or adopt the proposals to construct WPX, BCX, or GRX as shown on the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Map.
Riley won his Republican Runoff Election on May 22, 2018, but still faces the voters of Commissioners Precinct 2 as the Republican nominee in the November, 2018, General Election. During the hard-fought Republican Runoff, Riley promised voters that he would not build WPX, BCX, and GRX. Riley specifically promised that he wouldn’t build GRX through the W.G. Jones State Forest.
Noack and Riley both should show that they oppose WPX, BCX, and GRX, especially building the Gosling Road Extension through the W.G. Jones State Forest. There’s a simple solution. They should both place on the June 12 Commissioners Court agenda to take two actions: (1) clarify that they don’t accept, approve, or adopt those proposals in the HGAC Major Thoroughfare Map, and (2) instruct Montgomery County Engineer Mark Mooney to remove the language on the version of the HGAC Map which Mooney currently displays as “Adopted 1-26-2016.”
If they don’t, we know where both Noack and Riley stand on these issues.