Image: The Woodlands Parkway Extension, in slightly different form, remains on the Major Thoroughfare Plan, which the Montgomery County Commissioners Court has commissioned. The so-called “Woodtrace Boulevard Extension,” largely in the same location as the Woodlands Parkway Extension, is the hatched blue line in the red circle.
Magnolia, August 20 – Jennifer Eckhart, Republican candidate for Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner in the March 1, 2022, Republican Primary Election, rebuked incumbent Charlie Riley for breaking his campaign promise not to build the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX) and for building the road, which Riley renominated the “Woodtrace Boulevard Extension” (WBX), in a manner which will cause flooding, other drainage problems, and noise for residents who live near the unpopular road. Riley has lied about his plans to build WPX or WBX for many years, because he’s known all along that the road is necessary to support his beloved TX-249 Tollway economically and to give a boost to all of the real estate development deals Riley has made with campaign contributing developers along that unpopular road, also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway.”
In the midst of a hotly contested Republican Runoff Election, Riley in 2018 made a video advertisement promising that he wouldn’t build WPX, the proposed road connecting F.M. 2978 to the Decimation of Hope Highway. Riley also ran print advertising primarily in response to articles in this newspaper as well as concerns, which the former Publisher of The Golden Hammer had raised.
Riley is now constructing and planning WBX which jaunts southward about one-quarter of a mile from Woodlands Parkway at F.M. 2978 to connect right in front of the Mansions Way Apartments. WBX will run along the backside of the Woodlane Forest neighborhood as well as other subdivisions, which previously were quiet and rural.
Eckhart told this newspaper, “I have heard from many homeowners that are already stranded in heavy rains due to inadequate drainage and maintenance in the area. The lack of an official communication system in Precinct 2 has frustrated residents who feel they have no input on this project.”
“This Thoroughfare is being built in a floodway,” added Eckhart. “Impact studies regarding issues such as noise, flood mitigation, and environmental impact have yet to be provided. We were told that an environmental study was completed about 11 years ago. We know the proposed road will be built through wetlands and cut through existing drainage paths, but to my knowledge, no study of the drainage impact has been produced.”
Bob Ash, a resident in Woodlane Forest, spoke with personnel in Montgomery County Engineer’s Office and from Riley’s office. Ash explained, “I requested any documentation pertaining to this project and was informed by Jeff Johnson in Montgomery County Engineering, that he did not have anything. I also requested any impact studies that would be available from Precinct 2. I was told that unlike TXDOT, the county is not required to do a noise impact study. I have not been able to obtain a copy of the previous environmental impact study yet either. I have reached out to LJA Engineering, who is also involved in this project, to ask for any potential documentation. ”
“Residents of Precinct 2 deserve transparency and accountability,” concluded Eckhart. “As Montgomery County develops and grows into a major population center, we simply cannot afford more ‘good ole boy’ politics.”
WPX and WBX remain an issue in The Woodlands, which now faces an incorporation referendum on November 2. If The Woodlands incorporates as a city, residents and businesses there will face enormously higher taxes, a substantial increase in government regulation and interference in their lives, and the likelihood that their new city government will get taken – quite easily – by the Texas Municipal League and its leftist allies. At the same time, voters rejected WPX in a May 2015 road bond referendum, which Riley supported (and for which he later suffered criminal indictment.)
Gordy Bunch, the Woodlands Township Chairman who has fought for incorporation all along and pushed a $2 million “consulting study” – propaganda piece – to support it, has always argued the example of WPX and Riley’s machinations as the primary example of why The Woodlands would be better off with incorporation and more government, as the City of The Woodlands might have some control on future projects to block roads immediately outside of the city boundaries. Bunch has argued “we want to control our destiny,” which really are buzzwords for “I want more power in an elected position.” There is some merit to Bunch’s argument, however, from Riley’s lies, broken promises, and fierce determination to please real estate developers by building WPX or WBX no matter how regular citizens may feel about the project.