Conroe, January 18 – Local sage and longtime conservative political activist Bill O’Sullivan told the Montgomery County Commissioners Court during its first meeting of 2018 on January 9 that people north of Pinehurst are not going to pay $3.50 to take a tollroad when they can use F.M. 1774 for free, especially as the Texas Department of Transportation is widening F.M. 1774 anyway. “…It’s going to be $3.50 [in tolls] to go from Pinehurst and up to Todd Mission and it’s going to go up from there. In all actuality, except for Renaissance weekend, people are going to be on 1774, because they’re not going to pay $3.50, because that road is pretty much open,” O’Sullivan said.
At the urging of Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, who lied to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Commissioners on June 29, 2017, during a hearing in Austin that “Montgomery County…is unified in support behind” tolling Tx 249, TxDOT is constructing a half a billion dollar tollway from Pinehurst to Todd Mission in Grimes County that will lie parallel mostly to F.M. 1774 and go mostly through pasturelands as it travels north of Magnolia. The only people who are benefitting from the road – besides Doyal and Riley who are enjoying massive out-of-county political contributions and legal defense fund contributions as a result of their efforts for the tollroad – will be some land speculators, particularly San Antonio’s Rick Sheldon and Minnesota’s Varde Partners, who have contributed large sums of money to Doyal and Riley to ensure the project will move forward.
O’Sullivan made a major point to the Commissioners Court on January 9. According to numerous studies of the National Transportation Safety Board as well as private researchers, tollroads usually don’t alleviate congestion; they create it. As for the Tx 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County, it will do nothing. The economic reality is that it’s not worth $3.50 to pay to go from Pinehurst to Todd Mission in Grimes County, especially when our gasoline tax dollars have already paid for us to drive for free on F.M. 1774.
O’Sullivan’s entire remarks follow. The reference to Victor Vandergriff is to embattled TxDOT Commissioner Victor Vandergriff, who is now at the center of a scandal and whom Doyal invited to appear before the Commissioners Court. Vandergriff’s appearance backfired, because Vandergriff admitted during his appearance on December 19, 2017, that TxDOT would build the Tx 249 Extension as a free road, if Montgomery County chose not to build its 3.6 mile portion as a tollroad.
“In the last court, a Victor Vandergriff appeared. He was recognized last so there was no rebuttal to anything he said. I sat here in frustration listening to some of the absurdities he was uttering.
“The most absurd was that they wouldn’t build the tollroad unless we did what we did down south…He also indicated that they’ve started up north…well, up north to Todd Mission is the least favorable of any piece of this road.
“When I was 5 years old, I was a cop’s son. They captured a famous bank robber by the name of Willie Sutton, and they asked Willie, ‘Why do you rob banks?’ He said, ‘That’s where they keep the money.’ Well, in this road, the money is down south. It still going to take us 20 years to pay off the revenue bonds. Up north it’s going to take 40 years, so it’s absurd to build the north section without building the southern section.
“Now, Mr. Vandergriff got himself in the newspapers this morning. He’s a paid lobbyist and he’s admitted to double-dipping that he would go to Austin and he’d be paid by for whom he lobbies which is Warren Buffett’s company and would also get paid by the state. He’s said in the article that he was going to reimburse the state.
“All very questionable to me. He’s a hired gun. Whoever he’s doing this for I don’t know. There’s a lot of money up north to divert the road up 1774.
“North of Pinehurst it’s going to be $3.50 to go from Pinehurst and up to Todd Mission and it’s going to go up form there. In all actuality, except for Renaissance weekend, people are going to be on 1774, because they’re not going to pay $3.50, because that road is pretty much open.”