Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley is seeking to resurrect a new version of the unpopular Woodlands Parkway extension, despite the fact that the project is opposed by over 90% of voters in The Woodlands.
After the project was shot down in the landslide defeat of a road bond which would have funded it in the May 2015 election, many assumed that the project was dead. However, since then, Riley and County Judge Craig Doyal have been seeking to bring the extension back to life.
Instead of extending the parkway out from where it currently dead-ends into FM 2978 out to SH 249, as was originally planned, the new route would begin at FM 2978, 2,100 feet south of Woodlands Parkway, and then dead-end by an apartment complex. Although not currently proposed, Riley has acknowledged that the road could be further extended to 249 in the future.
Riley also hopes to build a community center off of the new road, although Montgomery County has no shortage of community centers, with dozens already in existence.
The new route has residents scratching their heads as to why commissioners would suddenly change course and make the new road a dead end. Many activists are concerned that the realignment will cause a traffic bottleneck on 2978 in the 2,100 feet between the two intersections.
Because of the political controversy surrounding the Woodlands Parkway extension, Doyal and Riley have avoided branding the new road as such, instead referring to it as “Mansions Way.” However, the road essentially serves the same purpose as the original Woodlands Parkway extension. Both routes would be east-west corridors which residents of The Woodlands worry would dump more traffic on their already congested roads.
The political maneuvering continued when Doyal, who is up for re-election in 2018, denied even knowing about the new project after receiving backlash from the community. Doyal now claims that the new Woodlands Parkway extension is exclusively Riley’s project. Commissioner James Noack, a vocal critic of the extension, was incredulous about the claim, “Do you really believe he didn’t know about this? These two are tied at the hip.”
Whether he knew of the project or not, Doyal nevertheless approved placing a $264,477 contract with R. G. Miller Engineers on the agenda to begin work on Mansions Way.