Conroe, August 24 – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) quietly noticed a series of confusing posts on their website announcing, canceling, and then announcing again an “open house,” formal presentation, and comment period for the Decimation of Hope Highway, the Tx-249 Extension project, which TxDOT has split into three sections. The hearing and comment period will occur today, August 24, 2017, at 3 p.m., at the Montgomery County Courthouse, 501 North Thompson, Courtroom Number 402, Conroe, Texas 77301.
The Decimation of Hope Highway is in three critical sections which begin at Spring Creek at the Montgomery County line. From Spring Creek to the intersection between Spur 149 and FM 1774, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley have asked TxDOT to allow Montgomery County to build and toll that 3.6 mile portion of the road, which they estimate will cost $73 million, so that they can funnel public dollars to some of their favored campaign contributors at Halff Associates, the project manager and engineering firm of Bobby Adams who is Doyal’s best friend, business partner, and legal defense fund organizer, as well as other favored political contributors. TxDOT will then build an additional tollway from FM 1774 in Pinehurst to FM 1774 north of Todd Mission at the Grimes County line, approximately 14 miles away.
With the tolling of that road, Montgomery County will be the only county in all of Texas where the entire Tx-249 Extension will be a tollroad. Even the Harris County portion will not be entirely tolled. None of the third section which begins in Grimes County and goes northward to State Highway 105 will be tolled. Citizens of Montgomery County should thank Doyal, who appeared before the Texas Transportation Commission on June 27, 2017, in Austin to lie to them that “Montgomery County speaks with a unified voice in favor of the tollroad.”
In actuality, two of the five members of the Commissioners Court – Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark – have consistently opposed the tollroad. The citizenry of Montgomery County is overwhelmingly opposed to the Tx-249 tollroad, as tollroad admitted Rich Muller admitted during a Commissioners Court meeting on March 14, 2017.
In the announcement for the public hearing, TxDOT disclosed some frightening information to Montgomery County citizens for the first time:
- The Montgomery County portion of the tollroad that TxDOT is constructing will receiving financing from federal and state funding sources as well as $325 million of revenue bonds.
- “The debt will be repaid over a term of up to 40-years from the date of financial close (excluding any refinancing).”
- “The projected amount of the interest that will be paid by TxDOT on the debt is approximately $780 million over the term of the financing.”
- TxDOT intends to collect tolls in the Montgomery County portion of the tollway forever even after the debt is repaid! (“TxDOT will collect tolls on Segment 1 to offset the acquisition, design, and construction debt cost. Tolling will continue along Segment 1 after the debt is repaid.”)
- TxDOT intends to set and then escalate the toll rates!
It’s important to note that the road travels into a largely-undeveloped area of pastureland and wood. One of the major beneficiaries of the road is Waco real estate developer and Doyal and Riley political contributor Rick Shelton who owns a gigantic tract of land along the tollway.
Doyal, Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner have noted that they intend to toll the 3.6 mile portion of the Tx-249 Tollway forever as well.