Voting begins on $350M bond for Montgomery County road construction

MONTGOMERY COUNTY (KTRK) -- Early voting started Monday in Montgomery County and the big issue on the ballot is a $350 million bond to pay for road construction, improvement and maintenance. It may or may not get the green light from voters.

Traffic, congestion and virtual gridlock are issues plaguing drivers in Montgomery County. As the area grows in population, the lack of mobility is accelerating.

That's why there is a $350 million bond proposal on the ballot, identifying 77 road projects across the county.

"When I drive, what I see is congestion," said Nelda Luce Blair, the co-chair of the bond committee which determined the projects the bond will fund. "I see roads that need complete overhaul, not just maintenance wear and tear."

One of the major projects is an expansion on Rayford Road. It will eat up $60 million of the proposal. The issue is important enough to the east side of I-45, they added a new early voting location to attract more voters.

"The traffic on Rayford Road is approaching about 50,000 cars a day," explained Paul Cote, a long time resident in one of the many housing developments along Rayford Road in southern Montgomery County. "We're going to have to find new ways in and out of this area in the near future because Rayford Road is at capacity."

Not everyone likes the plan and the opponents include former bond committee member Gordy Bunch. He resigned his position because he says the projects on the list are the wrong ones.

"There are a lot of projects on this list today that aren't identified as needed for 10 or even 20 years from now," he told Eyewitness News.

Namely, he and others are against an expansion of Woodlands Parkway from FM 2978 to Highway 249, and he doesn't understand why a congested Hospital corridor on Highway 242 isn't funded. At one early voting location, we found a similar sentiment.

John Wertz is part of an organized opposition.

"We just feel like it's a misallocation of funds," he said. "That's why we've gotten really involved."

It's hard to find anyone is Montgomery County who doesn't think there's a traffic problem. The issue is, what are the priorities. If the bond fails, as one did in 2011, county leaders could put it on the ballot again in the fall, though proponents aren't looking that far ahead. They're pushing to get it passed now.
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