New Caney and Conroe, May 7 – Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark has placed an item on the May 8, 2018, meeting agenda for the Montgomery County Commissioners Court to force a vote up or down on whether to remove the tolls on the State Highway 242 flyovers. “It’s time to remove the flyover tolls from these roads, because we paid off the debt. The tolls prevent people from using them, so we’ll free up a lot of congestion by making these flyovers free,” Clark told The Golden Hammer in an exclusive interview.
The action item, which Clark has placed on the agenda, reads, “CONSIDER, DISCUSS AND TAKE ACTION ON 242 FLYOVERS RELATING TO THE REMOVAL OF TOLLS AND TXDOT ASSUMING RESPONSIBILITY OF ONE AND/OR BOTH FLYOVERS.” As a result of his work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) on a number of issues, Clark has developed a strong relationship with Adam Galand, TxDOT’s Area Engineer, and other representations of the state agency who are bringing road projects to Precinct 4, which Clark represents on the Commissioners Court. TxDOT is about to begin construction on a major widening project for State Highway 242 to 4 lanes all the way to US Highway 59 as well as an overpass at F.M. 1314.
During candidate forums for the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Clark, Precinct 2 County Commissioner candidate Gregory Parker, and likely next Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough urged the Montgomery County government to remove the tolls from the SH 242 flyovers. The County paid off all of the bond debt on those flyovers on January 18, 2018, from pass-thru toll funds paid to the County from the State of Texas.
Since there is no debt, there seems to be no reason to charge tolls on the flyovers. By removing the tolls from the flyovers, they would finally actually relieve significant congestion on the Interstate 45 northbound frontage road and on SH 242 westbound.
During and after the electoral campaign, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and lame duck County Judge Craig Doyal have had two excuses for keeping the tolls on the SH 242 flyovers. First, Riley and Doyal claimed they need the tolls to maintain the flyovers. Second, Riley and Doyal claim there is a contractual “commitment” to build a third flyover. There is no contractual commitment at all, because, once the tolls go away, so does any commitment by this County to pay for a third flyover, under the written agreement between Montgomery County and the Texas Department of Transportation.
The maintenance excuse is particularly troubling at this juncture, however, because Riley and Doyal have abjectly failed to maintain the SH 242 flyovers. The SH 242 flyovers are filthy and appear to be falling apart.
For several days, there was a large piece of rubbish on one of the SH 242 flyovers that seems to be in a state of decay and was there all of the April 21-22 weekend. The piece of rubbish was close to the size of a human body. There is other filth along the flyovers on both sides. Additionally, tar is coming up from the road. It is readily apparent that Riley and Doyal have done nothing to clean their tolled flyovers.
Numerous readers of The Golden Hammer have reported that in heavy rainstorms, water ponds on the southbound flyover and many cars start to hydro-plane at significant elevations above Interstate 45. Obviously, Riley and Doyal need to address that situation as quickly as possible, although Doyal’s heavy golf obligations have interfered with his doing any County business.
With the beautiful weather southeast Texas has experienced during the spring of 2018, Doyal and Riley have no excuse whatsoever for not going out to those two roadways to get them cleaned. Neither Doyal nor Riley work even part-time hours in their jobs as County Judge and County Commissioner, respectively, according to individuals who work with them, who have requested anonymity. If Doyal and Riley spent a few hours each day of this week cleaning their flyover filth, those roads would be safer and more attractive. Working together, the two elected servants could probably clean the flyovers within two or three full days.
By turning the flyovers over to TxDOT, the state would be responsible for the road maintenance on them.