In a somewhat unsurprising move, earlier this week the Houston Chronicle’s Cindy Horswell reported that Montgomery County commissioners have decided not to pursue another road bond proposal for the upcoming November 2015 elections. This decision comes in the wake of a major defeat of a $350 million road bond proposal back in May. As to why this bond package was defeated? As is often the case with many failed infrastructure ballot initiatives, the answer is that there are a lot of answers. In this case, it appears that confusion about what the bond package contained and a myriad of different engineering studies might have provided fodder to fuel the perception that the projects selected weren’t high priority. (An effective mobilization by the opposition probably didn’t help, either.) Together, these factors motivated Woodlands-area residents to show up in record numbers against it. The timing of the bond election (in May, in a non presidential year, while on a ballot already crowded with other big dollar bond election packages) could have also played a role. But perhaps one factor that brought all these concerns together was the inclusion of one road project in particular (emphasis added):
But for most Woodlands voters, the bonds defeat came down to one key issue that Texas Patriot PAC president Julie Turner called the “poison pill” – the planned [Woodlands] Parkway extension.
Supporters argued the parkway extension would have provided a critical east-west connector between I-45 and Texas 249. Blair, the bond committee co-chair, said opponents failed to realize that even if the extension isn’t built, the traffic will still come.
But bond opponents say that extension project can wait, because there are other congested roads that need fixing first.
An excellent piece by Brian Walzel provided additional insight on the opposition’s perception of the flaws associated with this bond proposal:
Texas Patriots, a political action committee based in The Woodlands, is opposed to the bond proposal.
“We cannot support this bond, and the main reason is there is a poison pill, and that is The Woodlands Parkway extension,” Texas Patriots President Julie Turner said. “[The extension] will increase traffic in The Woodlands, and it does not alleviate anything—it makes traffic worse.”
Turner said the Texas Patriots could potentially support the bond if a formal list of projects was compiled that did not include the Woodlands Parkway extension.
Whether or not the bond package would’ve succeeded by omitting one controversial project is unclear; however, the decision not to put another bond proposal on the ballot this year makes clear that Montgomery County officials want to make triple sure the next bond package is not another miserable failure. Getting this right is important because Montgomery County is currently one of the fastest-growing counties in the country (#13 according to 2014 U.S. Census data to be exact). This growth means that investment in infrastructure probably needs to begin ASAP in order to be in place to handle the millions demographers are forecasting will be moving to Montgomery County in the next 50 years.