JON BOUCHE, GUEST REPORTER
On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, I was in Commissioners Court to hear the debate about the toll road. Specifically, I was trying to figure out if Commissioner Charlie Riley, Commissioner Meador, and County Judge Doyal were really going to follow through and betray the citizens of Montgomery County and push forward with this toll road project against the will of over 91% of their constituents. As you know, that is exactly what they did.
As you know, during Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (MCTRA) Lawyer Rich Muller’s testimony, he informed the court that this road was always going to be a toll road no matter what, and it was just a matter of whether it was a toll road run by the MCTRA or the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). I thought that was odd and really wanted an explanation as to why that was so.
After court was over, I was in the hallway when Mr. Muller approached me and said, “I just don’t understand why people in one part of the county don’t want people in another part of the county to have this road.” I was talking to County Attorney J.D. Lambright at the time. We were both surprised at Mr. Muller’s spin on this issue. Mr. Lambright interjected that people in the part of the county where this toll road is being constructed also voted overwhelmingly in the March primary for the proposition on the ballot which stated that there should be a vote before any toll road is constructed. Mr. Muller did not have a response for Mr. Lambright.
Since it seemed that Mr. Muller had made that statement for our benefit, I told him that what he was saying was just ridiculous, but since he just could not understand why there was opposition, I would be happy to explain it to him.
I told Mr. Muller that when companies being awarded very lucrative contracts are receiving those contracts from the very commissioners who are receiving large political donations from those same companies, the optics are horrible. I stated that, where I am from, we call these things bribes and kickbacks. To his credit, Mr. Muller agreed that this particular arrangement looked really bad. I then asked him why, out of all of the hundreds of thousands of miles of roads in Texas that are not tolled, why was it that this 3.5 mile stretch of road was 100% destined to be one of the .025% of roads in Texas that are tolled. I also asked, if he was able to explain why this road in Montgomery County is going to cost the taxpayers so much more than the Harris County Toll Road to build? Mr. Muller replied that the road would not cost the taxpayers anything but only those driving on that road would pay for it. Mr. Lambright then said, “The people who will be driving on that road are taxpayers so what you just said is total b.s.”
Mr. Muller replied that it was very difficult to answer my questions, but he would be happy to talk to me about it at some later time. I handed him my business card and told him that, when he was able to get it all straight in his head and explain it to me, he could just email me the answers to my questions. I told him that, if his answers made sense, I would be more than happy to help him in any way I could to ensure that people in Montgomery County understood why this 3.5 miles of toll road is such a great deal for them.
As you may guess, I never received an email from him or even a phone call. Of course, I never expected either.
You can contact J.D. Lambright and ask him about this conversation. I am sure he remembers it, because he seemed annoyed at Mr. Muller’s statements regarding this matter.