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Lacking Funds for Repairs, Texas to Convert Roads into Gravel Paths

Texas is thought of by many Americans as the heart of the oil industry. The current oil boom has seen production grow massively in the lone star state, and as oil companies have flocked to drill in Texan oil fields, they have taken with them money that has helped to boost the region’s economy.

Whilst it maybe a common belief that the oil boom has benefitted Texas greatly, it has actually brought problems to many local residents, as the increased traffic has begun to severely damage infrastructure and the environment.

As new fields are developed and the energy company-realted traffic increases, many farm-to-market roads in East and South Texas have been badly damaged, and affect such a large number of roads, that despite the supposed higher revenues earned by the state, the Texas Department of Transportation claims that it does not have the funds to make the necessary repairs.  In fact it estimates that the cost of maintaining and repairing the roads use by tankers and trucks travelling to and from the oil fields is around $1 billion a year.

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It may seem only fair that those same energy companies damaging the roads in order to benefit from the oil, should be charged to pay for repairs, but any efforts to increase taxes on the companies have so far failed to find the necessary support.

Roads in Texas are damaged by heavy traffic supplying the oil industry
Roads in Texas are damaged by heavy traffic supplying the oil industry. (KSAT.com)

Last month the Texas Department of Transportation announced that it intends to solve the problem of the damaged roads by converting more than 80miles of paved roads into gravel paths, with the conversion expected to begin on Monday the 19th of August.

David Glessner, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, explained that “since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safer is to turn them into gravel roads.”

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According to the Texas Tribune, Glessner said that the 80 miles of road to be converted into gravel paths were picked because they are rural routes inegible for federal funds.

State Senator Carlos Uresti, has been against the conversion plan since the beginning, and says that by failing to consult local lawmakers and communities, “the agency (Texas Department of Transportation) imposed a unilateral solution on these communities with no notice, no opportunity to seek alternative solutions, and no clear understanding of what to expect in the future.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com

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  • frank on August 25 2013 said:
    Why don't the oil companies build and maintain the roads, just like the forestry companies do in the woods of Maine, NH, VT, WA, Or and AK?
  • Gramps on August 22 2013 said:
    I delivered back country TX for 25 years for UPS and hauled oil field supplies for 10 years before that. Lets be clear they are not talking about FM "Farm TO Market" roads. The FM roads are just that built for heavy farm equipment and cattle trucks.

    They are talking about the back country lanes. I spent a lot of miles in the dust and mud on those back country roads. When a drilling rig is transported too or from a sight they will destroy the road base under a paved lane. a drilling rig is huge and very heavy. I see no way they can be broken down into lighter loads. The oil companies should just have to repair the road after removing the rig. That would be a fair solution.

    I would hate to see all the country lanes revert back to gravel roads which are more expensive to maintain. They have to be graded several times a year, are dusty and a rain turns them into a mud nightmare. Let alone all the dust mom has to put up with in the house. In 35 years I saw many of my back roads go from mud and dust trails to paved lanes and my job got a lot easier.
  • BOB on August 22 2013 said:
    How about keeping those dollars from going to the fed in the first place
  • Dagney on August 22 2013 said:
    Govt is corrupt at every level in the U.S. today. They are all working against the interests of the citizens.
  • Anvil6 on August 22 2013 said:
    Step One: Realistic per-axle weight limits on roads.
    Step Two: Texas DOT on the road with portable scales 24/7 and truck detours to funnel them across the scales.
    Step Three: Heavy "overweight" fines on a. truckers and b. companies that loaded the materiels onto the trucks.

    Similar problem in WV with Marcellus natural gas. Not just the drillers (few of whom stepped up to the plate and repaired their dammages)but also with the production take-away via OTR tankers. The process here may repeat for DECADES.
  • Todd M. Stevens on August 22 2013 said:
    "Illegible for federal funds"? How about ineligible? And, yes, I agree with the state senator quoted. If federal funding is out of the picture, the representatives and senators of the affected counties should have been advised and given an opportunity to offer input and alternative solutions. A fee-for-use approach would have been a reasonable one, since the FM's aren't designed or built for the use they are being put to. The energy companies making use of those FM's would, I think, have a serious interest in seeing to it that their equipment would have continued use of paved, not gravel, roads.
  • PattyWise on August 22 2013 said:
    I suspect that this is all part of Agenda 21. That is to make driving, more difficult, so you'll just give it up and move to the cities. Then you get to ride the busses and subways with the thugs. Quite charming, actually.
  • Howard R Music on August 22 2013 said:
    It is believed Texas officials are refusing to spend, or delaying funding of roads so that the option of toll roads owned by foreign companies can be implemented. Though demand has tripled, the DPS still uses facilities that are 40 years old, and is not hiring the employees needed, though there is no problem collecting the tag and license fees from motorists. This used to be one of the benefits of living in Texas; quality roads. That is now a thing of the past, especially the I-35 corridor. Add this to endless immigration equals gridlock.
  • Anglo on August 22 2013 said:
    So now, the people of Texas have to endure dust pollution?

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