Conroe, October 31 – Local conservative political activist and sage Bill O’Sullivan told the Montgomery County Commissioners Court that frontage roads are essential in locations where tollroads replace free roads, such as the Tx-249 Tollway’s 3.6 mile section that Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley are insisting that the County spend $73 million to construct, even though the Texas Department of Transportation has made clear that it has the funding and the ability to do so, if the County doesn’t.
When the Grand Parkway (State Highway 99) was under construction, Linda Merritt, a spokeswoman for Zachry-Odebrecht, the general contractor for the project, made clear that TxDOT and the engineering firms understood that frontage roads were essential along tollroads if there is to be any economic development along them. The empty greenery along the sections of Highway 99 in south Montgomery County where there are no frontage roads prove the point.
O’Sullivan emphasized that point during his remarks to the Commissioners Court. O’Sullivan said, “I want to talk about the 249 tollroad. First, there are some accommodations that can be made for the taxpayers. Any tollroad that replaces free roads needs to have service roads so that people have that option, that you’re not taking free roads away to put in a tollroad. There seems to be a question about our 3.6 miles, if right-of-way will be replaced without building a service road. If that’s true, that needs to be addressed and needs to be corrected.”
During the October 10, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting, Doyal’s and Riley’s expensive tollroad lawyer Rich Muller of Sugar Land admitted that there were no funds allocated for construction of frontage roads along the 3.6 mile road section Doyal and Riley want Montgomery County to build, although the Tx-249 lanes already there will serve as frontage roads to some degree. It’s only to some degree, because the current lanes don’t meet a lot of the specifications for frontage roads under Transportation Guidelines. A small portion of the 3.6 miles does not have the lanes for frontage roads at all.
The bigger problem is in the stretch of 15 miles that Tx-DOT plans to build as a tollroad after Doyal lied to the Texas Transportation Commissioners and told them in Austin on June 27, 2017, that Montgomery County is “unified in its support” for the tolling of the Tx-249 extension. In reality, citizen opposition to the proposed tollroad is significant. The failure to include any plans for frontage roads along that section is major, because Doyal, Riley, and their out-of-county development cronies, Varde Partners of Minnesota and Rick Sheldon of San Antonio, both major political campaign contribution and criminal legal defense fund contributors, plan to construct large-scale commercial and residential developments. Neither Varde, Sheldon, the State, or anyone else has committed to the $75 million or more necessary for construction of the frontage roads.
Since Doyal and Riley have failed to plan for the cost of the frontage roads, it’s pretty apparent who will get to pay the massive expenditure for those roads: Montgomery County taxpayers.
Therefore, the outrage of O’Sullivan and many other Montgomery County citizens continues to mount, since Doyal, Riley, and Muller refuse to permit the citizens vote in a referendum if they want the half a billion tollroad at all. With the $75 million citizens face for the frontage roads for the so-called “Decimation of Hope Highway,” a voter referendum certainly seems appropriate.