CAMERON - Mayor Julie Beresford and Delegate David Evans, R-Marshall, support the Marcellus Shale drilling boom, but they want to see that U.S. 250 and other roads around the city remain safe.
"The roads are really getting beat up because of the constant truck traffic," Beresford said. "Even when the trucks are not overweight, it is the constant pounding that the roads take from multiple trucks that go one right after the other."
Nestled in the southeastern corner of Marshall County with about 1,000 residents, Cameron is at the heart of the shale gas play, Beresford said, acknowledging that this has both positive and negative effects.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Cameron Mayor Julie Beresford said natural gas industry trucks continue tearing up roads in and around the city.
"I just want to see the people's way of life respected," she said. "With the number of oil and gas sites escalating, our infrastructure is truly being affected."
When Evans recently saw five drilling industry water trucks traveling east through Cameron on Green Valley Road, he decided to follow them to see where they would go.
"They went to a drilling pad over in Pennsylvania," he said. "When I got over there, I saw five more water trucks leaving the site to come back through Cameron."
During the approximately 17-mile southward journey from Moundsville to Cameron, there were several drilling-related trucks passing by going northward. These trucks included some so-called "sand cans," which transport fracking sand to the gas well sites, frack water trucks, pickup trucks with Texas license plates, trucks carrying drilling equipment to the sites, and the lead "escort" vehicles that guide the oversized trucks down the road.
"I am for the gas industry, but something needs to be done to help the people out here. These roads are terrible," Evans said.
Last year, former Marshall County Sheriff John Gruzinskas told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that he saw a "disrespectful attitude and disregard for the residents of this county by some of these subcontractors."
Most natural gas production companies such as Chesapeake Energy, CNX Gas Corp., Gastar Exploration, Chevron and others hire subcontractors to perform services such as well drilling, fracking, construction and transportation. The trucks could be carrying equipment, water, sand, chemicals, propane, butane or various other materials.
Though current Sheriff Kevin Cecil said the situation has improved somewhat, he acknowledges Marshall County still has problems with truck traffic.
Evans said U.S. 250 from the area between Fort Beeler and the new Cameron High School is particularly bad, noting he hopes the West Virginia Division of Highways will soon resurface this stretch of highway.
"Part of the problem is the DOH is running short on people right now," Evans said. "The funding is also going down because collections from the gasoline tax are down."
Evans said he will continue telling legislators and administrators in Charleston that something needs to be done to ensure that roads are repaired in a timely manner when they are damaged by heavy truck traffic working in the oil and gas industry.
During a recent town hall-style meeting in Cameron, U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., a practicing civil engineer for many years, said he would do what he could to help address the problem.
"Let me, as an engineer, look a little bit further into this," he said.
Beresford also believes the state and federal governments need to get more involved to help small cities such as Cameron when they are inundated with so much drilling activity and traffic.
"I know that there are very good things coming out of this shale boom for this whole area. I just feel there needs to be a more structured monitoring of our roads to make sure they are being repaired," she added.