Image: 2016 Houston-Galveston Area Council Major Thoroughfare Plan, which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley approved, published after Montgomery County voters rejected a plan to extend Woodlands Parkway westward. The new plan just renames the road “Wood Trace Boulevard.” Funding for the Tx 249 Tollway will include the initial construction for the road as a bridge at the intersection of Wood Trace Boulevard and the Tx 249 Tollway.
Conroe, January 20 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal dropped the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX) bomb during the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Friday, January 19, 2018, when, in response to a question whether he supported WPX, Doyal said, “The Woodlands Parkway Extension is still on the major thoroughfare plan. At some point that road will be constructed.”
In response, his challenger for County Judge in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, State Representative Mark Keough, accused Doyal of following the intention of the May, 2015, road bond referendum which Montgomery County voters soundly defeated: “The intention of the defeated road bond is still seen in the Wood Trace overpass on Tx 249. All they’ve done is change the name after the 2015 vote. Judge Doyal has kept it on the Montgomery County thoroughfare plan, but the people of Montgomery County said, ‘No!'”
In rebuttal, Doyal said that developers in the western part of Montgomery County want Woodlands Parkway extended, so “it’s still on the mobility plan and Wood Trace Boulevard is an example where those of us who govern must make a decision for what’s best. There will be an overpass at Wood Trace and that road will come in some time later.”
On May 9, 2015, Montgomery County voters resoundingly defeated an entire road bond referendum, because it included WPX as one of the road project proposals. The vote was 16,222 votes against and 12,144 for, or a 57.1% to 42.9% defeat.
Of Doyal’s comments, Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch said, “It’s a perfect example of ignoring the will of the people. The people who currently live here don’t want that road expanded. It even failed in Commissioners Precinct 2 [southwest Montgomery County] where the road is projected to be built, not just the Woodlands area. They want their immediate transportation and mobility needs addressed before the County caters to real estate developers.”
Local sage Bill O’Sullivan agreed with Bunch, “Sadly the attitude towards voters who have expressed their will in Montgomery County is so negative by the Judge that he’s willing once more to try to stick a thumb in their eye. I don’t know why he would do it, because the people have spoken loudly and clearly actually in two elections.”
The 2016 Houston-Galveston Area Council Major Thoroughfare Plan, which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley approved in 2016, after Montgomery County voters rejected a plan to extend Woodlands Parkway westward just renames the road “Wood Trace Boulevard.” Funding for the Tx 249 Tollway will include the initial construction for the road as a bridge at the intersection of Wood Trace Boulevard (aka WPX) and the Tx 249 Tollway.
Tx 249 Tollway funding includes WPX funding
Doyal, Riley, and the project managers for the Tx 249 Tollway at Halff Associates, Inc., the engineering firm of Bobby Jack Adams, Doyal’s best friend and business partner, whom the County government has paid over $2 million to “manage” the Tollway project, have snuck in a major bonus for the real estate developers – The Woodlands Development Company, Rick Sheldon of San Antonio, and Varde Partners of Minnesota – who so desperately want WPX constructed. They’ve included funding with the Tollway construction costs for the beginning of construction of WPX in the form of the Wood Trace Boulevard bridge that will extend northeastward off of the Tx 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway, towards its eventual juncture with The Woodlands at F.M. 2978 and Woodlands Parkway.
What’s particularly sad is that the July 24, 2017, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) letting schedule for Doyal’s and Riley’s Tx 249 Tollway project actually referred to the WPX as Woodlands Parkway. In other words, they didn’t even bother to change the name!
Three days ago, however, TxDOT amended the letting schedule and renamed the bridge “Wood Trace Boulevard.” Interestingly, the project bid date moved until after the March 6 Republican Primary Election to “May 2018.” Doyal obviously asked TxDOT to reduce the estimated cost of construction as well after Mark Keough, Doyal’s challenger, embarrassed Doyal with disclosure of the July 24, 2017, TxDOT letting schedule shown above during the December 14, 2017, County Judge debate before the Liberty Belles Republican Women.
More significantly, however, it’s clear that Doyal and Riley have intended to construct the WPX all along, despite the very clear will of the voters in Montgomery County who defeated the proposal.
As Doyal said, however, he’s the “govern[ment who] must make a decision for what’s best” since the voters and the citizens don’t make the decisions Doyal wants.
James Baker, the project manager engineer at Halff Associates, Inc., failed to respond to telephone calls and messages from The Golden Hammer.