Boldness must arise locally to save roads

This issue is just one of many that will arise. Classic freeze/thaw cycles in PA already compromise our secondary and tertiary roads without heavy truck traffic. Many of these roads have 10 ton weight limit bridges as well as weight limitations for the roads themselves, and much of the truck traffic greatly exceeds those limits. Not only does the question of “who will pay to fix these roads” come up again and again but the quality to which they are fixed may become an issue. Elk Run Road in Gaines, PA is being attended to daily by the company whose trucks destroyed the road. The gas company’s trucks, with a high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive, might be able to manage this fix of gravel and muck but the people who live on this road are struggling to get their every day vehicles in and out.

Published: March 14, 2010

It’s nearly spring and the secondary roads here are in poor shape. Some of the main roads, as well. It’s an annual occurrence. But, this year there is a dramatic difference More roads are in far worse shape than perhaps ever before, in large part because of the battering from heavy trucks, many of which are in the area tending to the burgeoning natural gas industry….

Inconvenience is an issue for motorists, of course. But far more important is safety for drivers. Safety for cars, safety for small trucks, safety for school buses carting children, and safety for big trucks, farm equipment and other vehicles.

Residents were warned about such looming hardships two years ago by county commissioners who saw early on some of the pros and cons of the natural gas boom resulting from exploitation of the Marcellus Shale play under Bradford County.

But, no one foresaw such a rapid expansion of prospecting and drilling – and infrastructure deterioration. Oversight, direction, regulation, control all lagged while the county was being transformed for better or for worse. Virtually all the mineral rights in Bradford County have been leased to gas companies, according to the Shirley Rockefeller, county register and recorder. Permits for 430 wells were issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection in 2009 for Bradford County alone, and 113 new wells were drilled. The rapid pace continues this year with 29 more drilling permits issued in January, second in the state only to Tioga County.

Plans for pipelines to transport the gas to markets are in the works. PennDOT, which only last week warned of a regional problem, says more than 60 roads in the county have been posted with weight restrictions. It is hard-pressed to keep up.

Behemoths lumber down the highways, some oversized, some overweight and, in too many cases, going too fast. They include 5,500 gallon and larger water tankers, flat beds to haul equipment, and dump trucks to haul material, all of which clog the roads, and grind the pavement. Crashes are more and more common. State police are levying unheard of fines for illegal loads running in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The roads, especially the secondary and tertiary roads are being pounded and pulverized into pot holes, gullies and broken shoulders. Driving is a hazard. Residents are growing impatient, even angry. Township supervisors and other municipal officials are at wits end.

It’s a crisis….

To read the full article, click here:

http://thedailyreview.com/opinion/boldness-must-arise-locally-to-save-roads-1.678530

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