Increased Gas Drilling Activities Bringing New Challenges to Local Governments in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 24, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Counties and municipalities across Pennsylvania where natural gas drilling is taking place — particularly in the Northern Tier region — are also struggling to meet a number of additional challenges associated with the industry’s increased presence and rapid growth, according to state officials. PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler, P.E. and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski today said that in the wake of the drilling, there have been increases in truck traffic, traffic violations, crime, demand for social services, and the number of miles of roads that are in need of repairs. 

According to Biehler, hundreds of miles of secondary roads in Pennsylvania’s northern tier have been damaged or even rendered impassable because of heavy truck traffic associated with drilling activities. While drilling companies have committed to repairing roads they use, Biehler said, their efforts have not kept pace with the damage in a number of cases. “The high volume of heavy truck traffic carrying water, equipment and chemicals to drilling sites has caused extensive damage to secondary roads and even some primary roads,” Biehler said, noting … we’ve had to close roads and revoke a drilling company’s permit to use those roads because repairs were not made in a timely manner. The condition of some of these roads has made travel a safety concern.”

PennDOT has ordered drilling companies to post bonds for 1,711 miles of roads and that number is expected to double this year….  State Police Commissioner Pawlowski attributed much of the road damage to overweight trucks serving the gas industry. He cited a Feb. 9 enforcement effort in  Susquehanna County that found 56 percent of 194 trucks checked were found to be over the weight limit. Fifty percent of those trucks were also cited for safety violations….

“More and more, it seems the police reports coming out of the northern tier include arrests because of drug use and trafficking, fights involving rig workers, DUIs, and weapons being brought into the state and not registered properly,” said the commissioner. “We’ve even encountered situations where drilling company employees who have been convicted of a sexual assault in another state come here to work and do not register with our Megan’s Law website…. 

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