The Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously agreed to ignore the concerns of many of their constituents in a recent bond proposal on the upcoming May ballot.

The Commissioners Court approved a project presented to the court by the Montgomery County Road Bond Committee, which they created to advise commissioners on mobility projects. One proposal included a $350 million bond package that would have major traffic ramifications for the Woodlands. Though leaders in the Woodlands stated they would prefer to not have the bond proposal at all, they stated that if it were to be passed they should at least receive an allocation to address the impact the increased traffic would have.

The committee agreed with the Woodlands and submitted another proposal of $365 million. They then suggested the court accept the second proposal containing an additional $15 million to address concerns of residents in the Woodlands.

Community concerns lie with a Precinct 3 project, the Woodlands Parkway extension, and the impact added traffic would have on the communities through which the parkway runs. The project plans to extend the Woodlands Parkway from FM2978 to Texas 249, passing through the heart of the master planned community. Community members believe the commissioners have not been transparent with their intent for pursuing the project.

Gordy Bunch, a former Precinct 3 Road Bond committee member and a current Woodlands Township Board member, stated that the project has a 90% disapproval rating by Woodlands taxpayers.

Bunch, along with many others in the community, argue that the Woodlands Parkway was never designed to serve as much area as it does, and at the least, the $15 million would allow them to mitigate some of the certain traffic issues that are to come as a result of the expansion. To no avail the Commissioners Court rejected the additional proposal without addressing the pleas of a large part of the county—sticking them with the additional debt, but none in terms of benefit.

In response to the commissioners disregarding concerns of Woodlands residents, Bunch resigned from the Montgomery County Road Bond Committee saying, “When a government makes a mistake [like this] it costs taxpayers millions of dollars and negatively impacts its citizens and is usually irrevocable.” In his resignation letter, Bunch said he could not continue to, “promote an issue that dismisses the concerns of 110,000 residents.”

Their concerns aren’t misplaced.

Two traffic studies were done on the Woodlands Parkway extension: one by Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack, and the other by the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. Though having some conflicting results, both studies indicate that the parkway will see an increase of about 6,000 motorists a day, and the small 2-lane road is not sufficient enough to handle that number of commuters.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and County Judge Craig Doyal argue that this project “isn’t a surprise” and has been talked about for years now. Riley said that, “Somebody should have been talking about what to do East of FM2978, while I was talking about what to do West of it.”

Bunch has now created an online petition to get Commissioner Riley and Judge Doyal to listen to the concerns of Woodlands residents. The goal is to stop the extension by getting it removed from the ominous bond proposal, but unless officials reconsider their decision, Montgomery County residents’ only choice will be a vote on the entire bond package on May 9th.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.