The removal of tolls along two flyover roads at I-45 and Hwy. 242 will not move forward at this time, while Montgomery County officials wait to determine how that action would affect maintenance on the roads.
County Judge Mark Keough brought a proposal to eliminate the tolls to the April 9 Montgomery County Commissioners Court, citing resident concerns over both the fees and traffic backups caused on the adjacent freeway service roads by drivers avoiding the tolls. Keough said that transportation in the county—and the tolls at Hwy. 242—have been persistent complaints from his constituents.
“By removing the tolls, I believe we’ll be able to remove much of the traffic jam that is there,” Keough said, adding traffic counts have shown only 3% of drivers traveling between the interstate and the state highway use the tolled flyovers.
While the majority of commissioners agreed in principle to taking away the tolls, several members of the court questioned how the roads would be maintained and how the Texas Department of Transportation would handle funding and maintaining the flyovers if removal efforts proceeded.
Keough said a contract between the county and TxDOT shows the state department’s responsibility for the roadway, while County Attorney B.D. Griffin said the agreement is unclear as to whether the state or county would be liable for maintenance.
“I do not know TxDOT’s interpretation,” Griffin said. “We have not spoken with them regarding whether they see a unilateral action by the toll road authority in Montgomery county to trigger an automatic maintenance responsibility.”
Following further discussion of the issue, the proposal was put to a vote and failed 3-2. Keough and Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack voted in favor of the toll removal, while commissioners Mike Meador, Charlie Riley and James Metts voted against it. The commissioners agreed to pursue a meeting with TxDOT officials to determine what the flyovers’ status would be if the tolls were removed in an effort to move the process forward.
“I’m ready to get the tolls taken off. The sooner we can get TxDOT in here, I think the sooner we can come to an agreement,” Noack said.
In other news April 9, commissioners:
- Unanimously approved a lease agreement between the county and DCR Development, LLC for hangar development on around 1.7 acres of land at the Conroe North Houston Regional Airport.
- Unanimously opened the position of Administrative Assistant I with an annual salary of $45,630 in Precinct 3, and closed the position of part-time clerk while opening the position of Clerk IV with an annual salary of $46,530 in Precinct 4.