Conroe, December 24 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and the “Charlie Riley Band,” the core of the small group of political supporters who repeatedly appear in Commissioners Court to pretend to show citizen support for the $95 million, 4.5 mile, Tx-249 Tollway, more commonly known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, received “The Golden Hammer Award” at the Tuesday, December 19, 2017, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting. Three times during 2017, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Doyal rounded up the same small group of people who are their core political supporters from Magnolia to come to Commissioners Court to speak in favor of the Tollway.
During the same December 19 meeting, however, both Doyal and Sugar Land attorney Rich Muller, whom Doyal and Riley pay thousands of dollars to act as a spokesman for the construction of the tollroad, admitted that voters would never approve construction of the Decimation of Hope Highway if put before them in a referendum. Muller had previously admitted citizen opposition to the road at the April 13, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting.
Despite that, Doyal appeared before the Texas Transportation Commission on June 29, 2017, requested that they build the Tx-249 extension as a tollroad in Montgomery County, and lied to them that Montgomery County is “unified in support” for Tx-249 to be a tollroad.
On Tuesday, December 19, Texas Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff admitted that if Montgomery County chose not to proceed to build the 4.5 mile Decimation of Hope Highway portion of the Tx-249 extension, the Texas Department of Transportation would like construct the road anyway as a toll-free Farm-to-Market road. Since the Grimes County Commissioners Court and its state legislators opposed tolling Tx-249 through Grimes County, Tx-DOT agreed to build the Grimes County portion of the Tx-249 extension as a toll-free road there.
Doyal and Riley want to build the Decimation of Hope Highway as a tollroad, so that the can control which of their political campaign contributors will receive the $82.8 million of construction expenditures currently estimated for the 4.5 mile Tollway. If Tx-DOT built the road, at no cost to Montgomery County, Tx-DOT would control the selection of vendors.
Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador have already spent approximately $13 million of general revenue funds of Montgomery County taxpayers on the engineering design and right-of-way acquisitions for the highway boondoggle. The County would receive repayment of some or all of those funds if the Commissioners Court gave the project back to Tx-DOT.
Doyal and the Charlie Riley Band crowd attempted to argue that the Tx-249 road was needed as a tollroad. In fact, they merely were able to muster individuals who said they wanted the Tx-249 extension. No one specifically asked for a tollroad as opposed to a free one.
Doyal, Riley, and their project manager, Bobby Jack Adams, the Halff Associates engineer who is Doyal’s best friend and business partner, have been representing to taxpayers that the entire 4.5 mile Tollway project would cost $73 million. During the December 14, 2017, candidate debate between State Representative Mark Keough, who is running for County Judge against the embattled Doyal in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, Keough released Tx-DOT documents that show the total cost of the project at more than $95 million, being $82.8 million for construction in addition to the $13 million Doyal and Riley have already spent.
Doyal, Riley, and their small group of political supporters who are members of the so-called “Charlie Riley Band” or its groupies have formed essentially the only county citizens who allegedly support the Tx-249 Tollway. Even all of the engineering firms to whom Doyal and Riley funnel the Tollway funds are from outside of Montgomery County.
The Tx-249 Tollway has already been a spending debacle costing County taxpayers more than $13 million. In actuality, the Tx-249 extension shouldn’t cost County taxpayers anything. Furthermore, Doyal and Riley should have opposed tolling the 4.5 mile section from Spring Creek to Pinehurst as well as the 15 mile section Tx-DOT is constructing northwest of there. Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, as well as numerous legislative leaders, have opposed the construction of additional tollroads.
It seems that Doyal and Riley and the “Charlie Riley Band” are foisting the only tollroad project proceeding forward in Texas right here in Montgomery County. They deserve “The Golden Hammer Award,” as they’re most certainly hammering the taxpayers of this community.