Conroe, June 26 – Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack is pushing the pass-thru toll funds availability issue forward, while the remainder of the Commissioners Court seems to be asleep with respect to the effort to ensure the County government makes the $56 million, which the State of Texas owes Montgomery County under the program, available as quickly as possible in order to meet this community’s mobility needs. Noack has put an item on the agenda for the Tuesday, June 26, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting to attempt to move forward the process whereby Montgomery County obtains the funds the State of Texas owes it under the pass-thru toll funds program.
“As County Commissioners, it’s our job to make sure that we get funds as quickly as we can to meet the major needs of this community. Since others have not pushed this program forward, I’m happy to take that responsibility to bring the funds back into Montgomery County,” Noack told The Golden Hammer Monday afternoon.
During the May 22 Republican Runoff Election campaign, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley said that the Pass-Thru Toll funds wouldn’t be available to Montgomery County until 2022. As Noack’s Media Relations Director Andy Dubois explained, “The timeline is unclear. That’s what Commissioner Noack wants to get on the table. Commissioner Riley had suggested the idea of a workshop during the campaign. We’d like to see that workshop or public hearing with the Texas Department of Transportation occur as quickly as possible.”
Dubois explained on behalf of Noack that the Commissioner wishes to establish the precise parameters for the County government to obtain the money. “We want a public hearing to bring TxDOT in to the County to answer these questions and also to give the public the opportunity to hear those discussions and to provide input as to the projects the citizens feel are the most urgent,” Dubois said.
Both Noack and Dubois explained to this newspaper that they’re concerned about the current timing of projects eligible for State funding. Under the County’s written Pass-Thru Toll Agreement, as amended, to be eligible for the disbursement of funds, the County must meet the following conditions:
- The proposed highway improvement must be included in the metropolitan transportation plan of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC);
- Prior to construction, the highway improvement must be included in the Transportation Improvement Program of the Houston-Galveston Area Council and in TxDOT’s Statewide Transportation Improvement Program;
- The high way improvement must satisfy all planning and environmental regulations under state and federal law.
Dubois noted that, in order to be included in the Transportation Improvement Program, the County’s proposed road improvement must become part of the HGAC’s plan between dates in July and September. “Time is of the essence here,” the Media Relations Director said.
Noack had previously suggested utilizing the $56 million available from the Pass-Thru Tolls program for the construction portion of the 3 mile, TX 249 Tollway, know more commonly now as the “Marc Lawrence Davenport Tollroad” in honor of the corrupt local political boss. Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Riley would not consider such a frugal use of those funds, as they instead wanted to issue revenue bonds in a process where their selection of engineering and contracting vendors would have no fetters such as TxDOT ethical standards and audits.