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Montgomery County tries to figure out what it wants

Can they ever pass a road bond?

Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal says he will hold community meetings to assess what direction the county should go to improve mobility after a $350 million road bond package was defeated by county voters this month.

The measure to finance 77 projects was defeated May 9 amid strong opposition to a controversial proposal to extend Woodlands Parkway to the west. About 56 percent of those who cast ballots opposed the proposal.

Voters in the The Woodlands’ precinct soundly rejected the plan, although it passed, sometimes by a narrow margin, in the other three precincts.

Doyal and other county commissioners plan to meet Tuesday to canvass the 28,400 voters, which is twice the number that went to the polls in the last road bond election.

“I want to find out exactly what the people want,” said Doyal, following a cursory review of the election returns.

Voters from The Woodlands turned out in the largest numbers, making up 40 percent of all who voted. More than four out of five Woodlands voters opposed the bond proposal.

The next-largest turnout occurred farther north in Montgomery, where residents cast 17 percent of the ballots. Nearly two out of three voters there favored the package.

“We have to have a bond issue, but I do not want to go out again until I’m convinced we have full support – strong support – county-wide,” Doyal said. “I’m not sure when that can be done.”

See here for the background. With the caveat that I have not looked at any precinct data for this election, I’d say the issue here is not one of finding full support for a bond referendum, it’s of finding support from The Woodlands. Flip things around so that you had a bond that they loved but everyone else hated, and it would have passed. Of course, then three out of four County Commissioners would have opposed it, so it never would have made it to the ballot. How they square this circle, I have no idea, and as someone who sets foot (or tire) in Montgomery County maybe twice a year, I don’t have much at stake in it. But thinking about their bond failures, and the reasons why this particular referendum tanked, led me to the following thought: It is often said that the reason why many people support mass transit is because they hope other people will take it, thus freeing up space on the roads for themselves. I think something similar was at play here, where the “No” voters in the Woodlands only want new roads built that keep people out of their neighborhoods. Good luck figuring it out, y’all.

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  1. matx says:

    If studies have indicated more road capacity is needed, the commissioners shouldn’t spend more money on a survey of what people do want. The bloc that is getting out to vote doesn’t want it–14,200 voters in The Woodlands were 40% of the entire vote if I am interpreting the numbers cited correctly. I don’t think going out to survey just those people is going to be very useful. Spend the money to get out the vote everywhere in Montgomery County.

  2. Ross says:

    Everyone I know who lives in The Woodlands is adamantly opposed yo extending the Parkway, citing studies that show an increase in traffic of 6,000 vehicles per day on existing segments. Their basic attitude is that they will kill any bond issue that includes the extension, and that the Montgomery County Commissioners need to get off their ego trip and present the bond without the extension.

    In general, it seems the folks in The Woodlands are tired of being used as a money bag for the “rednecks in the rest of Montgomery County”. What could possibly go wrong with that?