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The Montgomery County Toll Road Authority, which is composed of the five members of the County Commissioners Court, is moving forward on the construction of the highly controversial SH 249 toll road. In their first meeting of 2018, the court voted 3-2 to advertise bids for the construction of the road.
Most residents support extending SH 249, but the idea of the county paying for it and then making it a toll road is deeply unpopular. While Montgomery County Judge Doyal has argued that the only way to fund the road is with tolls, TxDOT has said they would be willing to build the road themselves.
While the Grimes County Commissioners Court lobbied TxDOT in opposition to their portion of the SH 249 extension being tolled, Doyal has requested that Montgomery County’s section be a toll. The result is that TxDOT will be building and funding a free road in Grimes County, while Montgomery County taxpayers will be stuck with Doyal’s toll road.
Although Doyal has told TxDOT Montgomery County is “unified in its support” for the toll, the project has in fact deeply divided officials in the fast growing county, with Doyal championing tolls as a mechanism for funding new roads. Commissioners Charlie Riley and Mike Meador also support the toll. Commissioners James Noack and Jim Clark stand opposed to the project, as well as State Rep. Mark Keough (R- The Woodlands), who is challenging Doyal in the Republican primary, and candidates Brian Dawson and Greg Parker, who are running against Riley.
Six citizens showed up to testify against the toll road. Not a single citizen spoke in favor of it. Activist Kelli Cook, Montgomery County Coordinator of Campaign for Liberty, presented Doyal with over 1,000 petitions opposing the 249 toll. Doyal refused to take the petitions.
With toll projects now being dropped all across the state, Montgomery County stands as a glaring exception.