Image: HGAC and Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan showing Woodlands Parkway Extension (in purple dots to left of the words “Woodlands Parkway”) which will turn Woodlands Parkway into a major east-west thoroughfare that will connect Interstate 45 all the way to the TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway. In order to mask what it actually is, the label on the road close to TX 249 is Woodtrace Boulevard. Does that make you feel better?
The Woodlands, Magnolia, and Houston, April 12 – A giant surprise that Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley has for the residents of Montgomery County is that he intends to build the Woodlands Parkway Extension (WPX) even after voters in Montgomery County, particularly in Precincts 2 and 3, rejected that proposed road in the May, 2015, road bond referendum.
Now that he’s desperately running and seeking re-election, Riley has tried to distance himself from the WPX project and even lied and said in some campaign events, “I won’t build WPX and have no plans for it.” Riley is lying.
Riley was Montgomery County’s representative on the Houston-Galveston Area Council in 2016 when he proposed WPX’s inclusion in the HGAC’s 2016 Major Thoroughfare Plan. HGAC accepted Riley’s recommendation, as did its Transportation Policy Council (on which Riley also serves).
Clearly, Riley intends to run two major thoroughfares through the middle of The Woodlands subdivision and turn that neighborhood into fast-moving traffic with the congestion of F.M. 1960 proportions. This two-part series already discussed Riley’s intention to build the Branch Crossing Extension through Alden Bridge and northward in order to make that fairly quite road into a major thoroughfare to carry traffic to Riley’s beloved TX 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway.
Just recently, two documents surfaced publicly which reiterate Riley’s intention to build WPX despite overwhelming opposition from the citizens in his Precinct 2 as well as in the rest of south Montgomery County. First, there’s a plan detail for the TX 249 Tollway, which shows that Riley instructed the engineers – major contributors to Riley’s criminal legal defense fund – to include a bridge and exit for WPX to connect to the tollroad, although under the plans its shown as “Woodtrace Boulevard.” The HGAC Major Thoroughfare map at the top of this article shows that Woodtrace Boulevard and WPX are one and the same.
An even more recent map, which Riley sought to hide from the public and from his colleagues on the Commissioners Court, contains the engineering plans for the TX 249 Tollway. Those plans, which Montgomery County Engineer Mark Mooney signed on January 23, 2018, also show a connector for TX 249 Tollway to WPX.
Doyal’s January 23, 2018, Commissioners Court outburst
At the conclusion of the January 23, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting, the Publisher of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper made a pointed citizen comment in which he, among other items, criticized Doyal because “you [Doyal] have the power to build the WPX and it sounds as though you’re going to fund part of it with the tollroad but you’re ignoring citizens’ concerns about it.”
Doyal responded angrily,
“Mr. Yollick I would refer you to Mr. Dubois [editor of the struggling Courier blog] who was moderating the debate held where you misconstrued my comments and get your facts straight, please.”
9 hours later, however, at the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC candidate debate, Doyal and Riley confirmed their support of WPX, as Montgomery County Judge candidate Mark Keough made clear that part of the $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx 249 Tollway would include a bridge and grade separation that was the beginning of Wood Trace Boulevard, the new name for WPX!
Riley chimes in to support WPX at the January 23, 2018, candidate forum
Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley debated his two challengers, local businessman and Republican activist Brian Dawson and former Comal County Commissioner Gregory Parker, at the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC candidate debate last night at the Woodlands Mall. Riley had a very rough evening, about which The Golden Hammer shall report in the near future.
Riley tried to confuse the issue about whether he supported the WPX, but his answer eventually was loud and clear. First, Riley accused challenger Dawson of supporting WPX previously. Riley told the crowd, “Whatever you want to call it, Mansions Way will be built over to Dobbin Huffsmith Road. I’m not going to tie it into Woodlands Parkway. 249 doesn’t have to have Woodlands Parkway to be viable.”
Less than three minutes later, however, the moderator asked “Do you believe the Woodlands Parkway Extension should be removed from the major thoroughfare plan” This question was important, because even after Montgomery County voters – led by voters in Magnolia and The Woodlands – rejected the May 2015 road bond referendum with WPX on it, in 2016 Riley and Doyal snuck WPX onto the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s “major thoroughfare plan” under a different name, “Wood Trace Boulevard.” Wood Trace Boulevard, however, clearly is WPX.
Riley’s answer to the question about WPX was quite illuminating:
“No, I don’t believe it [WPX or Woodtrace Boulevard] should be removed from the Thoroughfare Plan, because the developers on the west side need it. It needs to stay on there!”
In other words, Riley still supports WPX because some real estate developers “need it” even though the voters in his own Commissioners Precinct 2 (Magnolia area) and Commissioners Precinct 3 (The Woodlands) staunchly rejected WPX.
An hour later came Doyal’s turn to debate State Representative Mark Keough, the Republican who is running against the establishment liberal incumbent County Judge. Keough noted that WPX and grade separations for its contruction are included on the letting schedule for the Texas Department of Transportation.
“It’s no longer called Woodlands Parkway Extension but called Wood Trace. In 2016 we see the actual road comes off Woodlands Parkway. It’s there because they anticipate that taking place. Forget about what the people of Montgomery County want. They claim they’re making a ‘hard decision’ about what is the right thing to do. There is a plan [to build WPX] to continue. He [Doyal] told us this road is going to be built.”
In response, Doyal admitted WPX would move forward even though only 9 hours earlier in Commissioners Court he denied it:
“Where Woodlands Parkway is proposed to come out [on the major thoroughfare plan], Woodtrace it’s there today. It’s not Woodlands Parkway. It’s an overpass for the road. Do I think Woodlands Parkway will be built at some point? Yes. 2 years, 5 years, Woodlands Parkway will be extended to 249!” (Emphasis added.)
The moderator then asked, “Should the Woodlands Parkway Extension be removed from the thoroughfare plan?”
Doyal’s response was shocking:
“I don’t think so. In 2006, I got a resolution from the mobility committee of the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce to purchase parcels along the route of where Woodlands Parkway Extension should be. It’s been on the major thoroughfare plan. At some point we will need to continue east-west mobility to that side of Montgomery County from where Woodlands Parkway goes to 2978.” (Emphasis added.)
Keough noted, “He just verified it. Even though the people said this is a mistake. That is not representative government. The document shows the extension of Woodlands Parkway…and the grade separation [as part of the Tx 249 Tollway].”