Image: County Judge Craig Doyal laughingly reflects on his numerous proposals to spend more and more tax dollars within the Montgomery County government.
Magnolia, May 31 – The so-called “249 Partnership” has played a trick on the citizens of Magnolia who have suffered passage in the Magnolia City Council of a “Resolution of the City Council of the City of Magnolia, Texas Supporting the 249 Toll Road Being Completed from Tomball to Todd Mission.” The trick, which County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Magnolia City Administrator Paul Mendes have played upon the unsuspecting citizens is that they’ve claimed the project, a portion of which is known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, would be economically beneficial “as approved by Montgomery County Commissioners Court.”
The Decimation of Hope Highway is 3.6 miles from the County line at Spring Creek at the south end to F.M. 149 at the north end. As Doyal and Riley have imagined that road, it would be a toll road, which they have expressed they hope to toll in perpetuity. Apparently, Doyal and Riley believe that taxing users of the road forever is a good way for the County to make a “profit.”
By conflating issues and obfuscating facts, Doyal, Riley, Mendes and their “Partnership” composed mostly of out-of-county vendors and special interests have attempted to enlist the City of Magnolia’s support for a proposal that actually harms the City and areas around it.
The economic realities of Doyal-Riley version of the Decimation of Hope Highway
As the Decimation of Hope Highway presently stands under “approval” of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, there are some stark realities:
- The Texas Department of Transportation would build the highway from Spring Creek at the Montgomery County line to Todd Mission and beyond without any expenditure by Montgomery County whatsoever. The County government is just wasting tax dollars so that they can funnel the money to their favored out-of-county political contributors. Since Doyal and Riley wanted to make sure that their major political contributors and supports, almost all of whom are outside-of-the-county companies and individuals, those two members of the Commissioners Court wanted the County to control the direction of the Decimation of Hope Highway, which is 3.6 miles (!) of road that Doyal, Riley, and their engineer cronies now estimate will cost $73 million to construct. The 3.6 mile road, with a price tag of over $20 million per mile, will likely be the most expensive highway constructed in American history.
- Doyal and Riley want the Decimation of Hope Highway to be a toll road, while the Texas Department of Transportation road might not be a toll road at all. It doesn’t make any economic sense for the City of Magnolia or anyone else in Montgomery County to want the highway to have tolls. The tolls wouldn’t go to Montgomery County taxpayers. Instead, they’d go to the holders of debt. Meanwhile, Montgomery County taxpayers would have to pay some of the tolls to use the road.
- Doyal, Riley, and Commissioner Mike Meador have already spent $13 million of general revenue County funds for the road design, engineering studies, and right-of-way acquisitions. Montgomery County tax dollars have already left this community to make the payments to Doyal’s and Riley’s favored out-of-county vendors, including, most prominently, Bobby Jack Adams, vice president of Halff Associates engineers. Adams is Doyal’s best friend and business partner. Montgomery County has paid Halff just over $2 million for “project management.”
- The proposed road harms Montgomery County with respect to the transportation and infrastructure gaps in several respects. First, as the Harris County Toll Road Authority study has already recognized, there is so much congestion inside the City of Magnolia, that the best design of the proposed toll road will “bypass the City of Magnolia.” Second, Riley and Doyal have expressed that they hope to bring more traffic into Montgomery County on the proposed toll road. In other words, they want to make traffic even more congested than it is now. Third, the $13 million Doyal and Riley funneled to their political favorites for this crazed 3.6 mile project would have easily paid for the widening of F.M. 1488 from the Waller County line to Mostyn Manor, which even Riley has acknowledged is the greatest mobility need in all of Montgomery County.
On Wednesday, May 31, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Halff Associates, Inc., engineering firm’s James Baker made a desperate plea to the “249 Partnership,” to “Pack the [Montgomery County Commissioners] Courtroom June 13 to make people think there’s support!” Magnolia’s City Administrator Paul Mendes cooked hamburgers for the people attending the meeting. Riley added, “We’ve got get this done. Let them know that Tx-DOT wouldn’t give us the tolls, which we could make for years as a source of income.”