Paying for Road Repairs in Area
When West Virginians and our state legislators discussed new rules for the gas and oil drilling industry a few years ago, one of the priorities was to ensure heavy trucks going to and from well sites did not destroy our public roads. We were assured systems would be put in place to ensure that if the industry’s trucks damaged highways, companies would pay for repairs.
Many area roads are in deplorable condition, worse than those who live along them can remember being the case for many years. Fingers are being pointed at the gas industry.
In some cases, that is unfair. Much of the damage to highway pavement was a result of the brutal winter just now ending (we all hope). Some of the most pothole-pockmarked roads in the area have never been traveled by gas industry trucks.
Elsewhere, however, it is clear the heavy vehicles are to blame for damage. Sometimes traveling rural roads never intended to carry much weight, the big rigs’ tires literally chew up pavement and spit it out in some places.
State Division of Highways workers already have begun their spring campaign of patching potholes. But DOH officials warn money for the work is limited.
For some time, gas companies had excellent records of repairing roads their trucks used extensively. In fact, at one time, some Marshall County residents complained it was a shame their roads were not being used by the firms – which had a better maintenance record than the state’s.
Again, state law is supposed to include mechanisms to hold gas companies – or anyone else using heavy equipment – responsible for damage to highways. Are those rules being enforced? Are the companies helping to pay for road repairs in our area?
Those are questions legislators representing the Northern Panhandle should be asking. If the answers are “no,” new, stricter law should be put in place to safeguard area motorists.