Austin and Conroe, August 20 – At the urging of Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a statement that there would be a “process” if Montgomery County chooses not to build the 3-mile portion of the TX 249 extension as a tollroad. The message, which TxDOT issued on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, had a bit of a funny history to it. In actuality, it doesn’t say much, except that Montgomery County clearly has the right and the option not to proceed with the crazed project, which is little more than Doyal’s and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley’s effort to deliver public funds to their favored criminal defense fund contributors.
It’s important to remember where the 3-mile Decimation of Hope Highway project actually lies. Just to the north of the 3-mile section of road is the Harris County Toll Road Authority tolled section of TX 249, which ends at Spring Creek, at the Montgomery County line. The next three miles is a four-line road in very good condition with a small to moderate amount of development along it. That section ends at Pinehurst where F.M. 1774 and F.M. 149 meet to run west and north, respectively, from the intersection. At Pinehurst, however, is the beginning of the half a billion dollars, 15.3 mile TX 249 Tollway, which TxDOT chose to build as a tollroad after Doyal and Riley went to the June 27, 2017, Texas Transportation Commission meeting and lied to them that Montgomery County was “unified in support” behind building the road as a tollroad. In actuality, building that road as a tollroad doesn’t make much sense either, because the vast majority of funds which TxDOT is using for the project are federal highway funds.
During the April 10, 2018, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark urged the Commissioners Court members to go as a group to TxDOT to ask them to build the 3-mile section of road as a free road using state and federal highway funds. Doyal and Riley flatly refused, because, they claim, that would delay construction of the 3-mile middle section of that road.
Montgomery County worrying about the 3-mile middle section of the road is downright silly
It’s silly for Montgomery County to worry about whether the 3-mile middle section of the TX 249 extension gets built immediately. Remember, the portion of the road that actually goes through Magnolia and on to Todd Mission in Grimes County is already under construction. If people in Magnolia want a better road to take Houstonians to the Renaissance Festival, that’s already going forward.
The 3-mile section that Doyal and Riley so badly want to build in order to send money to their cronies could easily wait a few years. The 4-lane road in that section is already very good, while the 15.3 mile section north of there doesn’t exist. If TxDOT really wants a brand new road to connect the 15.3 mile road to the north to the HCTRA section to the south, as Clark has said repeatedly, “If TxDOT builds C and they build A, obviously they’ll build B right in the middle.”
Doyal and Riley are fixated on shoveling money in the direction of Halff Associates and Jones & Carter engineers, who paid large portions of their criminal legal defense.
The sad (or funny) history of the TxDOT statement
On April 19, The Golden Hammer chose to contact TxDOT’s Executive Director James Bass directly to see where TxDOT actually stood with respect to building the TX 249 Tollway. This newspaper was particularly intrigued, because there were reports that the family of convicted felons what works closely with Doyal, JP James Metts, and corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport had written something in a blog about having an “exclusive interview with James Bass.”
It turns out that the “exclusive interview” with Bass never occurred. Veronica Beyer, TxDOT’s Director of Media Relations, confirmed with The Golden Hammer on Thursday that Bass has not spoken with any reporters or news media this week, because he has been “tied up in hearings all week.” Instead, TxDOT issued a written statement (at the top of this article).
The statement is interesting, because nowhere in it does TxDOT state that they won’t build the 3-mile road. The statement is also interesting, because TxDOT has made clear that building that section of road as a non-toll road is a serious possibility. Interestingly, if TxDOT determined that it was a lower priority than other “unfunded highway needs,” it would receive treatment as such. Let’s face it: widening F.M. 1488 from Mostyn Manor to the Waller County line is a MUCH HIGHER TxDOT PRIORITY than building that 3-mile section of unnecessary new road for a 4-lane road that already exists between two tollroads.
Let’s also be serious: NOT building the 3-mile tollroad would probably be much better for the businesses along that 3-mile section of road, because tollroads definitely harm development of businesses along them, as the history of tollroad development in Texas has shown.
But let’s trace what happened with the TxDOT statement on April 18. After Doyal’s office called TxDOT to beg for some political help, TxDOT provided the statement to Doyal’s “chief of staff” jim fredricks, according to four different individuals who work in the Sadler Administration Building. fredricks then telephoned the family of convicted felons who work closely with him and read the statement to them on the telephone. The family of convicted felons then blog posted that they had had an “exclusive interview” with TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.
With State Senator Brandon Creighton, State Representative Mark Keough (who will likely be the next Montgomery County Judge after he beat Doyal by a landslide margin in the March 6 Republican Primary Election), Clark, and Noack all making clear that they don’t want a tollroad, because their constituents don’t want a tollroad and voted 91% in favor of Republican Primary Proposition 2 against tollroad without voter approval, there’s a lot of political pressure for TxDOT to find an alternative.
Nevertheless, Doyal and Riley don’t care about their constituents. They’re interested in money and power (although Riley may lose it). Doyal and Riley would push the Decimation of Hope Highway forward as a tollroad no matter what. TxDOT’s James Bass could walk into Commissioners Court with a $130 million gift certificate to build the TX 249 extension for free but Doyal and Riley would insist that their little “Montgomery County Toll Road Authority” build the project as a tollroad to funnel the money to Halff and Jones & Carter.
Follow the money.