Lake Woodlands-Grogans Mill overpass, citizen complaints dominate WRUD board meeting

Chairman Bill Neill (blue shirt), County Judge Craig Doyal (to immediate left of Neill) are among the board members of Woodlands RUD #1.

The Woodlands, February 27 – Citizen complaints and the proposed Lake Woodlands-Grogans Mill Road overpass dominated the board of directors meeting of Woodlands Road Utility District #1, which numerous citizens have criticized for making multimillion dollar road decisions for The Woodlands without any citizen elections or representation. Richard Durr, an executive with The Woodlands Development Company, long criticized for its control of WRUD #1, sat with the board, even though he is not (formally) a member of the governing body.

Andrew Wilson, a representative of the real estate investment trust which owns The Woodlands Market Street shopping center, spoke against construction of an overpass at the intersection of Lake Woodlands Drive and Grogans Mill Road. The overpass proposal has moved forward as a means to alleviate traffic congestion along Lake Woodlands Drive near the Woodlands Mall. Wilson argued that an overpass would be bad for jobs, sales, and convenience. He noted that the construction of an overpass at that intersection would require Market Street to close one of the entrances into the shopping center.

Woodlands resident Luis Ganados complained about traffic congestion and noise from the extension of Research Forest Drive northward to F.M. 2978 and about the current construction of the bridge over Spring Creek, which he claimed will bring more disruption than any gains from traffic flow. County Judge Craig Doyal, a member of the WRUD #1 board, which is largely a hand-picked group of The Woodlands Development Company, told Ganados that he would be happy to address mobility issues with Ganados after the meeting concluded but could not do so openly.

Conservative political activist John Wertz presented the WRUD #1 board with a Public Information Act request for numerous documents related to the District’s origin, operations, and relationship to the developer of The Woodlands.

Numerous Woodlands residents, including Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch and other members of the Township board, have criticized WRUD #1 for its secretive operations, its inaccessibility to citizens, and its taxation of Woodlands residents and businesses without offering a method of representation on its board. The District’s voting area is a highly-gerrymandered stretch of land that largely restricts voting to a few residents who work closely with the Woodlands Development Company.

The board announced that it is canceling its May, 2017, elections, because no one signed up to run against any current members of the board whose terms are about to expire. In 2010, ten local residents voted in the election and elected insurgent board members to the WRUD #1 board. The Woodlands Development Company later procured criminal prosecutions of several of those individuals for allegedly voting illegally. Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon opted not to prosecute. Therefore, the real estate developer lobbied the Attorney General of Texas to prosecute those individuals, since the District Attorney refused to do so.

The participation of County Judge Craig Doyal in such a scheme to antagonize and serve as an affront to local citizens would seem to be consistent with his anti-constituent actions in the Montgomery County government.

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