Image: Traffic congestion, without appropriate mobility planning by Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and the Commissioners Court, is turning Montgomery County’s roads into a “spaghetti loop,” according to mobility expert Bill O’Sullivan.
Conroe, November 18 – More than two years after passage of the $280 million, November, 2015, road bond referendum that Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal had said was an “urgent necessity” requiring voter approval, there has been little progress on the road bond projects across this community. Shockingly, the four County Commissioners have only completed $95.935 million of the $280 million of road projects, or approximately 34.26% of the necessary road work.
Of the four Commissioners Precincts, only Commissioner James Noack’s Precinct 3 has completed a majority of the road projects on the bond referendum list. Noack has completed $59.763 million of the $84 million budgeted for Precinct 3, or approximately 71.15% of the necessary road work.
In Charlie Riley’s Commissioner Precinct 2, approximately eighty percent of the completed work is one project, the Keenan Cutoff Road expansion, while numerous projects in the Magnolia area, The Woodlands, and around Fish Creek Parkway are making little, if any progress. In Commissioners Precinct 4, several projects are awaiting state matching fund approval.
Bill O’Sullivan, Treasurer of the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC, which opposed the May, 2015, road bond referendum but, after extensive negotiations with Doyal and Riley, supported the November, 2015, road bond passage, became an expert on Montgomery County mobility needs through that process.
O’Sullivan, in an exclusive interview with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, explained, “We passed a negotiated bond. Our agreement allowed in the first three years that $280 million could be spent. After 2 years of the 3 in this period, Precincts 1, 2, and 4 are way behind. Precinct 3 is fine. I attribute Precinct 3’s progress to Commissioner James Noack having a mobility plan and implementing it.”
Noack also explained that he and “my Chief of Staff Matt Beasley worked very early on to plan for a south Montgomery County mobility study” which they completed almost five (5) years ago. Noack told this newspaper that having the mobility study in place definitely “made the difference in completing the road bond projects timely.”
Both Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark have repeatedly called for a countywide mobility plan to identify and resolve mobility project needs swiftly. Doyal, Riley, and Meador have resisted a countywide mobility plan, because they’re concerned that they would then have less ability to fund highly-profitable projects that would benefit all of their outside-of-Montgomery-County political supporters who are vendors. Doyal and Riley, in particular, have made clear that they would prefer to allow Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle and the Houston-Galveston Area Council have greater control over Montgomery County road projects.
O’Sullivan further explained, “James Noack will complete more than what was on his list because the Rayford Road project up to now has come in under the estimated cost. When he saw that, he did not look at it as a slush fund but returned the funds to the next two prioritized roads and even those will be finished at least two years ahead of initially projections.”
O’Sullivan also noted, “Noack has been faithful to the south Montgomery County mobility plan. Two very high priorities were to complete road bond projects that aided the mobility for the new schools around Benders Landing near Riley Fuzzel Road. Commissioner Noack got those projects done quickly.”
In recent weeks, Marc Davenport, Doyal’s and Riley’s representative for road projects, has contacted representatives of the Texas Patriots Tea Party PAC to see if they’ll go ahead and support another road bond project for an additional $70 million in funding. Davenport, Doyal, and Riley want as much money available for County government spending as possible.
In an interesting related development, Doyal provided a $5,000 campaign check to Davenport during the past three weeks. Davenport did not accept the payment. Doyal, Davenport, and Riley continue to face criminal charges together for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The Beaumont Court of Appeals will hear the oral arguments in their criminal case on January 25, 2018, in Conroe.
O’Sullivan is appalled that there has been so little progress on the road bond projects. “When I think back a few years ago to all the desperate pleas of needing this money so we can build these much-needed roads, I know see it was all a sham. They’re not building. I just shake my head at all these plaintiff pleas back about 2 yrs ago when they had the prior bond turned down, because they failed to list projects and supported the Woodlands Parkway Extension.
O’Sullivan concluded, “The mobility needs of this County are not being met, because of the failure of the leadership of this County to plan. Instead, they’re focused on their [Tx-249] tollroad, so they’re calling for the Woodlands Parkway Extension which isn’t even on the HGAC 5o-year Thoroughfare Plan. By failing to move forward with our mobility needs and proper planning, the Commissioners Court is turning Montgomery County’s roads into a ‘spaghetti loop.'”