Image: A Williams Brothers Construction backhoe operator is moving dirt as part of the clearing for the TX 249 Tollway. JP James Metts’ logging company has a lucrative contract to provide the logging services with the Texas Department of Transportation on the project.
New Caney and Pinehurst, March 15 – If you’re wondering why JP James Metts, who is running for Precinct 4 County Commissioner, is rarely at work in his high-paid County job, is pro-tollroads, and refuses to sign the pledge not to support any tollroad construction or funding by a government entity unless the voters approve it, guess what? There’s several million reasons why.
Metts Construction, the company of JP James Metts and his son Jaime, has a lucrative contract with the Texas Department of Transportation to provide the logging services for the TX 249 Tollway! The Golden Hammer confirmed Metts’ relationship with TxDOT in what is a multi-million dollar job with Hunter Lehrman, P.E., a San Antonio civil engineer with Williams Brothers Construction, the general contractor that is building the half billion dollar tollway from Pinehurst to Todd Mission. An operator at a logging firm adjacent to the construction job site confirmed that “old man Metts comes out there with his son all the time.” In interviewing a backhoe operator for Williams Brothers, The Golden Hammer confirmed that Metts and his son are at the job site several days each week between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Metts has refused to sign the pledge against tollroads. Metts has refused to respond to telephone calls, including yesterday, inquiring about his position on tollroads. There seems to be no limit to the cronyism in which JP James Metts will engage. It’s genuinely frightening what conflicts of interest Metts would enjoy if he were to become the road and bridge Commissioner for Precinct 4.
Metts’ lucrative contract with TxDOT certainly adds to the corrupt image of Montgomery County under the County Judgeship of Craig Doyal, the Montgomery County Judge who suffered a resounding defeat at the hands of the voters in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
Kelli Cook, the renowned conservative Republican activist from the north Montgomery County area told The Golden Hammer after she joined with a group to visit the construction job site, “It’s become obvious why Judge Metts is pro-tollroad. He stands to make a lot of money off the Decimation of Hope Highway.”
Cook also explained, “One of the ethical lapses we’ve seen in the Montgomery County government, which voters strongly rejected last week in the Republican Primary, is all of the conflicts of interest among government officials when they vote for high dollar contracts with private vendors. How in the world is Metts’ work as a direct contractor to TxDOT not a major conflict of interest that would cloud his judgment on tollroad issues, on inter-local agreements involved TxDOT, and any related matters.”
Ginger Russell, the Quiet Lady from Magnolia, a conservative Republican Precinct Chair and leading expert on legislative issues, also visited the job site on Tuesday and said, “Now we know why Metts spends so few hours on his County job when he’s working several days a week at the Decimation of Hope Highway job site. We really don’t need a County Commissioner whose livelihood is primarily from governmental entities that Montgomery County does business with regularly. We need a County Commissioner who will make decisions based on independent judgment of what’s best for the taxpayers.”
How the tollroad came about
There are two sections of the TX 249 Tollway in Montgomery County. There’s a 15.3 mile stretch from Pinehurst to Todd Mission, which TxDOT is building for approximately $443 million. TxDOT would not have built the road as a tollroad but for the intense lobbying by Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley who went to Austin several times, including June 29, 2017, when they told the Texas Transportation that Montgomery County was “unified in support of the tollroad.” In fact, Montgomery County voters rejected tollroad projects without voter approval by a 91% to 9% margin in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
Doyal and Riley have both endorsed and supported Metts in his campaign for Precinct 4 County Commissioner against incumbent Jim Clark who has consistently voted against the TX 249 Tollway project in the Commissioners Court.
Doyal and Riley wanted TxDOT to build the 15.3 mile stretch of the TX 249 extension as a pretext to support the 3 mile, $73 million to $85 million Tollway they’re wanting to building from Spring Creek to Pinehurst to connect the TxDOT portion of the project to the Harris County portion of TX 249 that stops at Spring Creek. By convincing TxDOT to build the Pinehurst to Todd Mission road as a tollroad, Doyal and Riley felt they could justify the 3 mile portion from Spring Creek to Pinehurst as a tollroad. As a tollroad under the Montgomery County government’s supervision, Doyal and Riley have been able to funnel the money from the project to their criminal legal defense fund contributors and their campaign contributors. Doyal and Riley have already caused Montgomery County taxpayers to pay more than $13 million in general revenue tax dollars on their project.
On December 19, 2017, however, Victor Vandergriff of the Texas Transportation Commission spoke to the Commissioners Court and admitted that TxDOT would build the 3 mile section as a free road, if Montgomery County didn’t built the road as a tollroad.
Metts has been unwilling to oppose the TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. Metts and Doyal campaigned cooperatively during the Republican Primary Election in East Montgomery County. Metts had predicted he’d win the Primary Election easily without a runoff, especially with the support of Doyal and Riley. Instead, Metts now faces the incumbent County Commissioner Jim Clark in the May 22 Republican Runoff Election.
Clearly, Metts has many million reasons why he supports a tollroad project that the voters have opposed and which will greatly harm the citizens of Montgomery County. Follow the money.