Image: Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, under criminal indictment, waiting to speak before the Texas Transportation Commission, on June 27, 2017, where he lied and told them that Montgomery County was “unified in support” behind the $73 million, 3.6-mile, Tx-249 Tollway.
Magnolia, September 9 – Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador are shoving a $73 million, 3.6 mile tollroad that is an extension of Tx-249 from Spring Creek to the intersection of F.M. 1774 and Spur 149 in Pinehurst down the citizens’ throats.
No one wants the road except a small group of people – Doyal, Riley, Meador, the owners of the Renaissance Festival, San Antonio real estate developer Rick Sheldon, Bobby Jack Adams (Doyal’s best friend and business partner) and his engineering firm Halff Associates, Rob Maxwell and his engineering firm Jones & Carter, the Tomball Chamber of Commerce, and a few other outside-of-county vendors.
The 3.6 mile portion of the road will connect a short toll road in Harris County to the south and about 15 miles of tollroad in Montgomery County to the north. Tx-DOT is building the 15 miles of tollroad for approximately $573 million. After Doyal went to Austin and lied to the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) that Montgomery County is “unified in its support” of the tollroads, TTC approved the road. Doyal, Riley, developed Sheldon, and their engineer and vendor buddies partied in Austin that night. They believed they shoved this crazed project down the throats of the citizens, despite overwhelming opposition.
Tx-DOT has confirmed to State Representative Mark Keough, who is running for Montgomery County Judge and opposes the Tollway, that they’ll build the 3.6 mile road, which connects the Harris County tollroad and the 15 mile Montgomery County portion of the road, even if Montgomery County doesn’t build the tollroad. But Doyal, Riley, and Meador insist that want to build the 3.6 mile section of the road anyway and risk the credit and future of Montgomery County citizens, so they can control which vendors get to build the road now (i.e., their political contributors) and so they can reap the tolls from the 3.6 mile road forever as taxes to support other ambitions Doyal, Riley, and Meador have to spur the growth of the Montgomery County government.
Now, you should understand why it’s called the Decimation of Hope Highway. It destroys all hope that government will get smaller. The road destroys all hope that free markets will rule us rather than a tiny group of crazed, Soviet-style, central planner who think they should play chess with the board that is the geography of Montgomery County.
Three local heroes – Keough, Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack, and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark – have consistently opposed construction or spending any money on the Decimation of Hope Highway.
Top 10 Reasons Why Montgomery County’s government should NEVER build the Tx-249 Tollway
Here are the top 10 reasons why Montgomery County’s government should NEVER build the Tx-249 Tollway:
#10 The people of Montgomery County overwhelmingly don’t want this road
- A September 2014 study, which the TTC conducted, showed that Texans ranked tollroads as dead last as far as the type of transportation options they desired.
- Doyal, Riley, and Meador refuse to allow the citizens of Montgomery County to vote on a referendum whether to proceed with this massive spending project, because they know there’s overwhelming citizen opposition.
- Sugar Land attorney Richard Muller, whom Doyal, Riley, and Meador have paid more than $100,000 to work for the tollroad project, admitted during the April 11, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting that Montgomery County voters would likely not support the $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 extension.
- Every single citizen who has appeared independently before the Commissioners Court has opposed the Tx-249 Tollway project. Only people from outside-the-county or who work directly for Riley or Doyal have made phony presentations for it.
- The Harris County Tollroad Authority will get approximately 9% of the tolls from the Montgomery County Tollroad as an administrative fee.
- The Harris County Tollroad Authority will set the tolls on the Montgomery County Tollroad.
- If the Tx-249 extension goes all the way to College Station from Houston’s Beltway 8, the only tollroad portion north of Harris County will be in Montgomery County. No other county will suffer tolls, because the leadership of Grimes County and other counties has fought against tolling of the road.
#9 Texas citizens will be forced to subsidize Mexicans and other foreigners who use the Tx-249 Tollway.
- If a Texas citizen doesn’t pay for the tollroad, they’ll get a bill and a fine in the mail.
- But American tollroads can’t bill, fine, or enforce foreign nationals or foreign trucks, because there’s no international enforcement power.
#8 Toll tags are a great way for the government to track the movement of citizens.
- As the government builds a “national security state” in contravention to the Republican Party Platform, government can now track our movements through credit cards, debit cards, cellphones, smart watches, and toll tags.
#7 The taxes (tolls) won’t ever end, even after the road is paid off.
- Mike Meador and Craig Doyal have already said they don’t intend ever to end the tolls on Tx-249, because they want an “endless” source of revenue to grow the Montgomery County government forever.
- If the history of the Harris County Toll Road Authority and every other toll road built in the last 20 years in Texas reveals anything, it’s that tolls don’t go away when they pay off the cost of building the roads. Instead, they keep the money flowing into government – as a new form of tax – to support other government projects.
#6 Tolls are just another form of taxation.
- Because tolls on tollroads don’t have anything to do with maintenance of the roads or paying off the cost of construction of the roads, the tolls are just another form of taxation.
- Notice that Doyal, Riley, and Meador aren’t telling us that our property taxes will go down. They’ll just have more money to play with.
#5 The road’s development and its backers are corrupt.
- Doyal, Riley, and Meador have spent $13.4 million of general revenue funds for the Tx-249 Tollway so far.
- Rick Sheldon, the main benefitting real estate developer, and Halff Associates, the engineering firm that is the “project manager” that’s received over $2 million so far on the 3.6 mile road project, are the primary organizers and backers of Doyal’s criminal legal defense fund that led to the hiring of Houston lawyer Rusty Hardin to defend Doyal and lead the defense of Riley and local political boss Marc Davenport.
- Sheldon, Halff Associates, Jones & Carter engineers, Land Tech Surveyors, and other “contractors” on the Tx-249 project are major political contributors to Doyal and Riley.
- By 2016 only, when Doyal came into office as County Judge to push this crazed road project, here’s the list of Doyal contributors and political cronies who received funds from the Tx-249 project:
- Contract, January 26, 2015, Halff Associates, Inc., $1,987,000.00
- Contract, February 9, 2015, Geotest Engineering, Inc., $194,178.00.
- Contract, April 21, 2015, SWCA Environmental Consultants, $142,300.00.
- Contract, September 15, 2015, Brown & Gay Engineering, Inc., $710,000.00
- Contract, September 15, 2015, Jones & Carter, Inc., $1,599,500.00.
- Contract, September 15, 2015, Aguirre & Fields, LP, $1,599,500.00.
- Contract, February 9, 2016, Landtech Consultants, Inc., $268,140.31.
- Change Order, December 20, 2016, Halff Associates, Inc., $358,000.
- On August 22, 2017, Doyal, Riley, and Meador voted to give $405,500 to CDM Smith, Inc., a company that just had to pay back $4 million to the United States Department of Justice for criminal fraud as part of a plea bargain after CDM Smith had to admit to inflating highway project invoices so it could use the funds to bribe officials.
#4 The price of the tolls will be monstrous.
- In order to support a tollroad project that goes to nowhere – vacant pastureland and open fields around Todd Mission, Texas – the tolls will be enormous. Citizens will likely pay 50 cents per mile, while foreigners will get away without paying.
- The tolls will likely increase geometrically, since the Harris County Toll Road Authority will have control over the pricing and will get a percentage cut of the money haul.
- Some people are having to pay $40 per day in tolls in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to commute to work. Is that really what Montgomery County citizens want?
#3 The price of the 3.6 mile road is monstrous.
- At a price of $73 million (current estimate), this road will cost more than $20 million for a construction project in the middle of rural geography. That’s insane.
- The $20 million per mile price tag will make Tx-249 one of the most expensive highways in American history!
#2 The Tx-249 road won’t lead to development.
- One of the reasons the Tomball Chamber of Commerce (outside of Montgomery County) supports the Tx-249 Tollway is to support economic development.
- The experience of tollroads in Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, and elsewhere is that tollroads don’t bring economic development with them, because drivers do everything they can to avoid using those roads, especially with the high cost of tolls in the 21st
- Some areas where free roads became tollroads have suffered economic blight as a result of the tollroads coming into the area, because drivers don’t want to do business or shop where they have to pay tolls.
#1 Tx-249 is a road to nowhere.
- Citizens should drive the route of the proposed Tx-249 tollroad. It’s a joke. The road goes nowhere and ends up in vacant pastureland and fields near Todd Mission, Texas.
- The road would not arise as a result of free market economic development. Instead, two businesses – the Texas Renaissance Festival and San Antonio real estate developer Rick Sheldon – want the road to bring people to their specific business projects. The Renaissance Festival and Sheldon should pay for the road!