Liberty County judge discusses growth, transportation projects at Dayton Chamber luncheon

Liberty County Judge Jay Knight delivers a State of the County address to the Dayton Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

In his State of the County address at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 7, Liberty County Judge Jay Knight shared insights into local industry and growth, upcoming and potential transportation projects, and a drainage study that will create a comprehensive drainage plan for all of Liberty County.

Since Knight took office eight years ago, Liberty County has been on a roller-coaster ride of rapid growth and challenges. In a span of just eight years, the county’s certified tax roll more than doubled from $4.623 billion in 2015 to an astonishing $10.811 billion in 2023.

Knight explained that when property values soar, the tax rate should naturally decrease, and that Liberty County’s ad valorem tax rate was $0.5788 per $100 valuation in 2015 and is now $0.47 cents per $100 valuation.

The additional rooftops in Liberty County – much of which comes from the Colony Ridge community south of Plum, but also housing developments in the Dayton, Cleveland and Liberty areas – has added revenue to the county, but with development has also come the need for additional infrastructure and transportation solutions.

Addressing a mostly south Liberty County audience at the luncheon, Knight, who is also the chair-elect for the Houston-Galveston Area Council, highlighted transportation projects coming to the Dayton area. Knight explained the much-needed railroad overpass in Dayton should be going out for contracts in May 2024. Once a contractor is selected and construction gets underway, the $35 million state-funded project should take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete.

“There’s another project ongoing at FM 1413 at US 90. That’s going to be another overpass with a grade separation,” Knight said. “Another project we’re looking at right now, we’re trying to get it to move along as quickly as possible, is the transportation issue that’s been in Dayton for years, actually 100 years, because that railroad was built in 1920, and this is 2023, so 101 years now. It goes all the way to Baytown. When you get to 1413, there’s another spot there at-grade crossing. So my question to Union Pacific was, is your anticipation of building another track coming out of the rail yard area?”

Knight said Union Pacific representatives confirmed there are plans to add a second track in the next 5-10 years. These north-south tracks will ultimately connect to industrial parks near the county line and the Grand Parkway.

Knight said the County is working with the developers of the River Ranch Subdivision south of Dayton along SH 146 to create a River Ranch Parkway that will connect SH 146 to FM 1409 South, creating a bypass around Dayton. The goal is to eventually continue the River Ranch Parkway across the Trinity River and connect to FM 563 south of Liberty.

Judge Knight also underscored the need for state lawmakers to amend development law to help counties manage rapid growth more effectively. The current development law tends to favor developers, leaving county officials with limited means to slow growth and catch up with infrastructure.

“There are more big developments coming our direction. It’s not an issue of controlling what’s coming. It’s about managing what’s coming. There are laws that are making that more difficult,” he told Bluebonnet News after the luncheon.

John and Tara Brandt, owners of Mainframe 24-HR Wrecker in Dayton, were recognized for being in business for 25 years at the Dayton Chamber luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Property tax values doubled but the tax rate did not fall to half, hmmmm. As far as drainage, did they ever find the missing reports relative to the colonia, aka Colony Ridge?

  2. Jay Knight who are you kidding?! We all know that Trey Harris is lining your pockets, along with Ernest Bailes! You two should be ashamed of yourselves! Follow the money people! These two are as corrupt as they come.

      • Working up the list on who goes and who gets to stay WAIT! Looks like only one or two get to stay. Putting all on notice. Being friendly and caving to the whims of Colony Ridge will only leave you eating §∆€™ come election day. This ends in 2024. We have had enough and gave all of you 10 years to fix the problem All you did was make it worse to the point of being completely intolerable. Get your resumes ready. Pink slips going out in a few months. We are coming after your jobs. OPOT

  3. So we’ve had verifiable massive increases in crime stemming from these slummy Colony Ridge developments that have been a nuisance to the county and beyond, but everybody put on your happy faces while we usher in more “development”.

    Vote these assholes out next go round.

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