Conroe and Austin, April 21 – The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) confirmed on Thursday, April 18, 2019, that it would take over maintenance expenses of the State Highway 242 flyovers, if and when the Montgomery County Commissioners Court removed the flyover tolls. This newspaper confirmed that fact with TxDOT on April 18 and then confirmed with Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack that he knew TxDOT had confirmed that fact to him. Noack has stressed, however, that he hasn’t gotten written confirmation yet but expects to receive that on Monday or Tuesday of this week.
Nevertheless, the Courier blog which has published several misleading articles about Keough and the flyover tolls, Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Noack don’t seem to want anyone to know TxDOT has agreed to assume the responsibility for those flyover maintenance expenses. Why?
On Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Keough moved to remove the flyover tolls in the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Keough and his Chief of Staff, Jason Millsaps, both provided a detailed presentation in which they noted that TxDOT had contractually agreed to assume the flyover maintenance expenses once the Commissioners Court stopped tolling the flyovers.
In that same meeting, however, Riley and Noack both sought to embarrass Keough and Millsaps by arguing that the Montgomery County-TxDOT contract was unclear about whether TxDOT had contractually agreed to assume the flyover maintenance expenses, if the County government stopped tolling the flyovers. Keough responded by asking pointedly why over the past fifteen months since the County had paid off the flyover debt no member of the Commissioners Court nor the taxpayer-funded lobbyist, W. Robert Eissler, whom Riley and Noack hired to deal with TxDOT, had sought the answer to the question about the flyover maintenance.
The Courier blog then ran a poorly-written article on April 12, 2019, in which Riley and Noack accused Keough and Millsaps of misleading the public.
The little propaganda campaign against Keough (and Millsaps) ran into a brick wall, however, when TxDOT this past week agreed with Keough and Millsaps that TxDOT had agreed under the contract to assume those expenses once the County government removed the tolls from the SH 242 flyovers. Oops!
The Courier blog took one last pot shot at Keough on Thursday, April 18, in running an article in which Riley was again critical of Keough for the lack of planning of traffic in the SH 242-Interstate 45 intersection. Once again, that article didn’t make any sense, because Keough just came into office on January 1, 2019, but Riley began working for the County government as the Precinct 2 Commissioner’s Operations Manager right after Riley and his wife filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002. Riley needed a job, because he had incurred enormous debt in his poor management of a truck stop and needed money on which to live while he evaded paying his creditors.
Riley now claims TxDOT and the County government will be able to resolve the SH 242 – Interstate 45 intersection traffic problems by 2026! Apparently, that’s Riley’s latest rationale to try to keep the tolls on the SH 242 flyovers, even though only two weeks ago in Commissioners Court he had indicated that the remaining issue was whether TxDOT would assume the flyover maintenance expense.
Keough has shown great leadership. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, Keough “kept his head when all about him were losing theirs and blaming it on him” (with slight artistic editorialization of Kipling’s great poem If).
In reality, Keough’s actions on April 9 finally spurred the Commissioners to take the action with TxDOT which they should have taken fifteen months ago.
TxDOT will assume the flyover expenses once the Commissioners Court removes the flyover tolls. Still, Riley who supports tollroads for the “revenue” (a nice word for taxation) is rapidly searching for another pretext to fend off any attempt to remove the tolls.
Readers should expect a press release from Riley and Noack on Monday or Tuesday trying to take credit for procuring an agreement with TxDOT to assume the flyover maintenance expenses. If truthful, the press release should read:
“Keough spurs Commissioners to confirm, after 15 months of needless waiting, that TxDOT will assume SH 242 flyover expenses as the Montgomery County-TxDOT contract clearly provides.”