Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

What Can Texas Do About Roads Damaged by Drilling?

Truck traffic on FM 81 in the Eagle Ford Shale formation area.

Photo courtesy Texas Department of Transportation.

Truck traffic on FM 81 in the Eagle Ford Shale formation area.

The Texas Department of Transportation gave an update Wednesday on their current measures to repair damaged rural roads in the Eagle Ford Shale.

During a Texas Senate Transportation Committee on Transportation hearing, TxDOT highlighted a $500-million solution enacted by the state to rehabilitate damaged roads linked to heavy oil and gas related traffic in the natural gas hot spot.

John Barton, deputy executive director of TxDOT, broke down exactly how the funds are being used. “We took $225 million and directed it to projects based on the criteria that was established in that bill [HB1025] that asks us to look at the safety in the [road] network.”

TxDOT inspected roadway conditions such as width and truck traffic volume.

“By using those, we ranked projects in these oil and gas impacted areas and selected about 41 of them to deliver with that $225 million,” Barton says. TxDOT expects these projects to be completed throughout the fall and into Spring 2015.

Barton says the remainder of the $500 million was distributed to counties whose roadways were affected by gas and oil related activity. “The department was asked to move forward with a grant program which authorized us to distribute $224.5 million to eligible counties.”

James Teal, county judge of McMullen, Texas, notes the shock his county has felt with all the drilling commotion. “We were about 750 people before the Eagle Ford came along,” he says. “We don’t have an interstate road system nor a rail system; so when the Eagle Ford came along we were impacted by the traffic, greatly.”

Despite the shock, Teal says he’s pleased with the efforts Texas has made in response to the damaged roads. “We’ve had a lot of success with TxDot,” he says. “That’s been a very smooth process for our county.”

TxDOT is working with some 200 eligible counties in pinpointing and responding to infrastructure problems caused by the natural gas boom.


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