Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Report finds each Marcellus gas well costs thousands in road damage

An oversize truck load moves heavy equipment through the Tiadaghton State Forest.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

An oversize truck load moves heavy equipment through the Tiadaghton State Forest.

Each shale gas well in Pennsylvania causes between $5,400 and $10,000 in damage to state roads, according to a recent report by researchers at the Rand Corp.

From EnergyWire:

The damage is largely unseen and may shorten the life span of the highway system.

The report comes as the state Legislature is looking for ways to offset the impact that gas drilling produces in Pennsylvania, which has become the third-biggest gas-producing state thanks to drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

While the costs are significant, “they look like they’re manageable with the right policies,” said Constantine Samaras, who led research as a senior engineer at Rand and now teaches engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Researches assumed there were between 625 and 1,148 one-way truck trips per well, using data from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The report only focused on the cost to state-maintained roads and excluded smaller local roads, where gas drillers typically have agreements requiring them to pay for visible damage. According to the gas industry trade group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, companies have spent more than $500 million to repair roads since Pennsylvania’s gas boom began.

The state’s impact fee on natural gas drillers is meant to help pay for costs– like road repair– associated with natural gas development. Over the past two years the fee has brought in about $200 million per year. 

About $25 million stays at the state level for agencies impacted by drilling. The remaining money is given to local governments, with 60 percent going directly to areas impacted by drilling, and 40 percent to the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which gets used in communities across the state.

Drillers are required to make their 2013 impact fee payments to the state Public Utility Commission by April 1st.

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Comments

  • Lois

    It’s says the drillers are fixing them, so what’s the problem?

    • Guest

      Lois, I don’t know where you’re located, but take a cruise through Montrose PA on the state roads on Rte 706. My tire lights blink because the pavement on the road is so disintegrated and the sensors can’t comprehend it. That doesn’t even happen on dirt and gravel roads, Here’s a video of the trip if you can’t do it yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAafjQxhP1k&list=UUfbfGPFJn5t3HvJcRNTvJxQ

    • Guest

      Lois, I don’t know where you’re located, but take a cruise through
      Montrose PA on the state roads on Rte 706. My tire lights blink because
      the pavement on the road is so disintegrated and the sensors can’t
      comprehend it. That doesn’t even happen on dirt and gravel roads,
      Here’s a video of the trip if you can’t do it yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAafjQxhP1k&list=UUfbfGPFJn5t3HvJcRNTvJxQ&feature=share&index=9

    • Guest

      Lois, I don’t know where you’re located, but take a cruise through
      Montrose PA on the state roads (Rte 706). My tire lights blink because
      the pavement on the road is so disintegrated and the sensors can’t
      comprehend it. Here’s a video of the trip if you can’t do it yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAafjQxhP1k&list=UUfbfGPFJn5t3HvJcRNTvJxQ&feature=share&index=9

    • Alexander Lotorto

      Lois, I don’t know where you’re located, but take a cruise through
      Montrose PA on the state roads on Rte 706. My tire lights blink because
      the pavement on the road is so disintegrated and the sensors can’t
      comprehend it. That doesn’t even happen on dirt and gravel roads,
      Here’s
      a video of the trip if you can’t do it yourself: http://youtu.be/DAafjQxhP1k

    • CitizenSane1

      Lois, Since the gas industry invaded where I live in Sullivan County, I’ve had to spend more on front end alignments, new tires, and brake pads p/year then I ever did in the past. Also, when roads are rough, your gas mileage goes down. Our roads were once a dream. Now, they’re a cracked-pot holed nightmare. Also, whatever it is they’re spilling/leaking out on our roads is eating away at the undercarriages of our cars. It should also be noted that the gas industry repairs the roads while they’re using them. When they’re finished on a particular road, they leave it in worse shape then it was prior to their “repairing” it.

  • Ladderback

    I know that there are Townships who have ordinaces which require roads to be restored to pre drilling quality — why can’t the State do that?

  • Maggie Mead

    Last week, I met a Parson’s Corporation engineer who was surveying a small bridge over a local creek In Lawrence County PA. Through our conversation he told me that PA decided that this bridge would not last 50 years and needed to be rebuilt (that road had recently been resurfaced). I told him that the bridge seemed fine so why did they have to do it now and he told me that due to all the Marcellus Shale development these small bridges were taking a beating. But there is no development in that area; yet. He also told me that the state was bidding these projects out to four of the top contractors in the state. I said to him, “so, you are literally paving the way for the gas industry to come into this area.” He agreed. This needs to be investigated. Not only are they preparing the roads with our tax dollars in advance of the industries arrival and so they do not have to pay for the repair later on, but the jobs to rebuild these bridges will not be going to local contractors, they will go to huge corporations outside our region. I bet if you mapped out all the state road and bridge projects you would see that they are now out ahead of gas industry development.

  • KeepTapWaterSafe

    Next they’re gonna want to experiment with drill cutting to fix all the pot holes they make, no joke:

    Driller wants to use rock waste for roads, Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
    http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/02/01/Driller-wants-to-use-rock-waste-for-roads/stories/201402010064#ixzz2xTA7Ys3zhttp://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2014/02/01/Driller-wants-to-use-rock-waste-for-roads/stories/201402010064

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