Image: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner candidates, left to right, Brian Dawson, Gregory Parker, and Charlie Riley. Riley, the incumbent, has his hand covering his mouth.
Magnolia and Conroe, January 23 – During the past four days, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal dropped the bombshell that some of the funding for the $73 million, 3.6 miles, Tx 249 Tollway actually includes the initial bridge from that tollroad to begin the grade separation and bridge that will be the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX). Voters, especially in Commissioners Precincts 2 (Magnolia area) and 3 (The Woodlands) rejected WPX resoundingly in the May, 2015, bond referendum.
Doyal’s and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s latest scheme 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.
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.”
The Golden Hammer tracked down two of the three candidates for Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election and asked them a series of questions about the Tx 249 Tollway and WPX. Riley failed to respond to the questions, which follow along with candidate Brian Dawson’s and candidate Gregory Parker’s answers.
Both Dawson and Parker provided outstanding answers to the questions.
The Golden Hammer: Do you support the construction of the Woodlands Parkway Extension (“WPX”)? Why or why not?
Brian Dawson: I do not support WPX nor have I ever. When the issue of WPX originated I did not support WPX, because I felt it was nothing more than a revenue grab by the current leadership of Montgomery County and Precinct 2. It was my impression WPX was being pursued with such intensity and disregard for the people of Montgomery County, because the powers that be were dead set on funneling residents towards the TX 249 tollway and wanted on and off ramp tolls for WPX.
I now oppose this road additionally, because the voters overwhelmingly rejected the project. If elected officials will not listen to those they are elected to represent, then they must be replaced.
Gregory Parker: Unlike my opponents, who have supported this project, one as commissioner and the other as president of the fake tea party which endorsed the bond and the WPX, I do not support the government construction of the WPX. I believe WPX to be a “spine” road for developers. I am not opposed to building or maintaining roads. I am opposed to government building roads that are designed to aid specific developers and friends. Harden Store Road has been on the thoroughfare plan for several years. It’s my belief that widening Harden Store Road, and 1774 would eliminate the need for the WPX, at least for the foreseeable future.
Brian Dawson rebuttal: What Mr. Parker said about my involvement in that organization is incorrect. That organization’s support of the road bond is one of the reasons I left the organization in December, 2014, before the May, 2015, road bond election.
The Golden Hammer: Do you support the construction of the Wood Trace Boulevard extension of Woodlands Parkway from FM 2978 to Tx 249? Why or why not?
Brian Dawson: As I stated, I do not support WPX, Wood Trace Boulevard, Mansions Way, or any other manifestation of the WPX extension. The voters of Montgomery County have spoken on this project no matter the name and they said loud and clear in May 2015…no to this project.
Gregory Parker: Wood Trace Boulevard is nothing more than an attempt to put a new face on the already rejected project. This is an obvious example of Commissioner Riley ignoring the will of the people. WPX is without question not popular with residents, as some 6,000 Woodlands residents signed a petition against the Woodlands Parkway extension and other extension projects.
Further, the Woodlands Township Board has passed a resolution against all 3 proposed extension projects and the road bond referendum including the WPX was soundly defeated countywide, 57.1% to 42.9%. The road bond referendum even failed in southwest Montgomery County, where the road is projected to be built, despite the support of Commissioner Riley and Candidate Dawson whose fake tea party group endorsed the bond and the WPX.
The Golden Hammer: Do you support tolling of the 3.6 mile section of Tx 249 from Spring Creek to Pinehurst? Why or why not?
Brian Dawson: I have made my opposition to tolling TX 249 extremely clear, and have been equally critical of those who support the toll project. The people of Montgomery County have made their feelings abundantly clear on toll roads in this county and I also believe our county leadership has failed us on this project. In doing so, they have specifically done the people of Southwest Montgomery County a disservice.
Honestly, if our elected representation had banded together and taken the side of the people, TX 249 would be moving forward as a State of Texas project without tolls. The fact this was not even attempted shows our County Judge and Precinct 2 Commissioner are more concerned with generating increased revenues for them to spend than they are serving the interests and needs of the people of Montgomery County.
Gregory Parker: I do not support tolling any road. Moreover, I advocate for the abolishment of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority. TxDOT has stated on more than one occasion to multiple individuals that they would build the road, if Montgomery County decides not to move forward with tolling 249. Further, there has been no detailed cost analysis released or presented to justify the $20+ million dollars per mile cost that is estimated. If the road can be built without a toll component, then the road should be built without a toll component.
The Golden Hammer: Do you support Montgomery County’s tolls paying for Grimes County to get a free section of Tx 249? Why or why not? If not, what is the solution to that situation?
Brian Dawson: It is a travesty and an outrage the people of Montgomery County are being relied upon to pay for the Grimes County portion of TX 249. Grimes County joined together and demanded no toll road and they were heard.
Montgomery County officials went to the Texas Transportation Commission and instead lobbied for a toll road. Each county received what they asked for. It is a shame our elected officials set out to work against the taxpayers instead of for them.
When the Transportation Commissioner, Victor Vandergriff, was in Commissioners Court, he all but threatened Montgomery County, arguing the 3.6-mile portion of road would not be built in “our lifetime” if Montgomery County did not build it. Considering sections A and B are moving forward I find this hard to believe. The commissioner would have us believe two segments would be built while leaving the 3.6-mile segment unconstructed. I believe this to be a loosely veiled threat. And I believe the threat is easily seen through and should be disregarded by the people of Montgomery. I believe Montgomery County should band together, stand firm, and demand no toll roads in Montgomery County.
Gregory Parker: There is nothing wrong with being a good neighbor, and I am sure Grimes County is a wonderful place, but I think it is wrong to ask Montgomery County citizens to pay twice to assist Grimes County. With that said, I do not support Montgomery County’s tolls paying for Grimes County to get a free section of Tx 249. I believe the solution is to allow TxDOT to build the 249 road without a toll, given the statewide gas tax we all pay can be used to provide us and Grimes County with our sections of the 249 road. Texans and Montgomery County citizens are generous, we have done our part, we don’t need elected officials taking advantage of that.