Montgomery County Commissioners unanimously remove tolls along Hwy. 242 flyovers

A 2005 bond package provided $34 million to build the flyovers, which opened in 2015.

A 2005 bond package provided $34 million to build the flyovers, which opened in 2015.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to confirm tolls will cease May 28 at midnight.

Paying a toll to drive along the Hwy. 242 flyover above I-45 south of Conroe will soon be just a memory for commuters.

Montgomery County Commissioners unanimously voted to remove tolls along the Hwy. 242 flyovers at the May 28 meeting, initiating the process.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough's Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps said the tolling will cease May 28 at midnight, confirmed by Harris County Toll Road Authority.

"As soon as court adjourned, [Keough's] office reached out to HCTRA [and] confirmed midnight's tolling cessation," Millsaps said after the meeting.

“After months and months of negotiating between us and [the Texas Department of Transportation], we’ve got an agreement [for maintenance] if we take the tolls off, and I’m in agreement we’re ready to do that,” Pct. 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said during the meeting. “We finally got a verbal agreement and now we have to make sure we get all this down in writing the way it needs to be. I’m in favor of removing the tolls.”

Millsaps said County Attorney B.D. Griffin will pursue putting an agreement in place to transfer maintenance and operations over to TxDOT over the next 60 days.

“You cannot effectively remove the tolls tomorrow because there are some number of things that need to be taken into account,” Griffin said. “If you vote to remove the tolls and give us the authority to execute and draft appropriate agreements with TxDOT and other entities, which we need to communicate with, we can start that process today.”

Commissioner James Noack said from his talks with TxDOT, the court can take action to have the tolls stopped at any time.

“We’ve already done the inspection [and] given us written feedback,” Noack said. “I’d like the motion to remove tolls.”

Griffin said the county has the ability to change the tolls, but Harris County has 60 days to act on that, and it could take up to four months to terminate the contract with the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

Riley asked Griffin to get drafts out in 30 days, and the attorney said he would start the same day to get drafts out quickly.

"There may be [toll] signs up, and the [toll] units will obviously still be there and have flashes," said Assistant County Attorney John McKinney over the phone after the meeting.

Two citizens spoke during public comment in favor of the toll removal, including Reagan Reed, Houston correspondent for nonprofit Empower Texas, who read a statement from the Republican Executive Committee of Montgomery County.

“In 2020, we won’t have straight ticket voting–candidates in the party are going to have to be active,” Reed said. “The opportunity to deliver on this issue is really popular and will give us something, give y’all something we can take to the voters.”

In other news Tuesday, commissioners:
- Recognized six staff members and their dependents who earned $500-$1,000 in county employee scholarships.
- Recognized that County Engineer Mark Mooney is retiring after 34 years of service June 1, a tenure Commissioner Meador said will likely never be surpassed. Commissioners appointed Jeff Johnson, currently a traffic engineering manager, to take up the position in June.
- Voted 4-1 in favor of adding a license plate reader to an I-45 weigh station, with Keough voting against the measure, citing privacy rights. Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson said he would never install one in a residential neighborhood—only along major thoroughfares.
By Jules Rogers
Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Jules Rogers has been covering community journalism and urban trade news since 2014. She moved to Houston in June 2018 to become an editor with Community Impact Newspaper after four years of reporting for various newspapers affiliated with the Portland Tribune in Oregon, including two years at the Portland Business Tribune. Before that, Jules spent time reporting for the Grants Pass Daily Courier in Southern Oregon. Her favorite beats to cover are business, economic development and urban planning.


ExxonMobil moved employees from its Springwoods Village campus to a Hughes Landing to cure a default on a Montgomery County tax abatement. (Courtesy ExxonMobil)
ExxonMobil resolves tax abatement default; Home Depot distribution center taking over superfund site; and more top Houston-area news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

The University of St. Thomas is a private Catholic college in Houston. It also has a microcampus in downtown Conroe. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
University of St. Thomas offering free tuition to first 500 students who apply

The online degrees are in the following fields: cybersecurity, network technology, electronic technology, general business, and alcohol and drug dependency counseling.

houston firefighters rally
Appeals court rules in favor Houston firefighters in collective bargaining case

The 14th Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the fire union in a case that originated when the city and the union failed to reach an agreement on a labor contract in 2017.

The city of Humble has been investing in improvements to its four parks, such as Schott Park. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials talk park improvements, incoming e-commerce tenant at Humble BizCom event

Local business leaders and community members gathered virtually May 6 at Humble BizCom event hosted by Partnership Lake Houston.

The Texas Department of State Health Services projects a significant shortage of nurses by 2032. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Why Texas faces a growing nursing shortage and what can be done to address it

In 2018, the state health department estimated about 11% of the demand for nurses was not able to be met, and that number is expected to rise to 16.3% by 2032.

Legacy Community Health is bringing COVID-19 vaccines to historically underserved communities across Beaumont and Houston. (Courtesy Pexels)
Legacy Community Health vaccine rollout targets underserved communities in Houston, Beaumont

The health network is partnering with other entities, including Beaumont Independent School District.

Houston, Harris County annual addresses no longer hosted by Greater Houston Partnership over Texas voter bill dispute

Local leaders criticized the area chamber of commerce for not taking a definitive stance on two voting access bills currently being deliberated in the Texas Legislature.

The new location is Chipotle's first in Magnolia. (Courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill)
Chipotle opens in Magnolia; get a sneak peek of new Houston aquarium and more metro news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member. (Courtesy Fire Smart, LLC)
Fire Smart, LLC celebrates one year of providing fire safety education across Greater Houston area

The business specializes in customized in-home consultations during which families will receive a fire safety plan specific to their house's floor plan and an age-appropriate, individualized plan for each family member.

The Houston Interactive Aquarium & Animal Preserve's marine building has sharks, turtles, stingrays, alligators, fish and eels. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATED: Houston Interactive Aquarium & Animal Preserve opening delayed as attraction awaits final approval, inspections

The Houston Interactive Aquarium & Animal Preserve will open off Beltway 8 in the Humble area.

Harris County ESD 11 plans to hire 150 individuals to staff its new ambulance services. (Courtesy Cypress Creek EMS)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 aims to hire 150 staff to launch new EMS

The district launched its hiring effort in late April and held a virtual job fair April 29-30 to attract candidates.