WV Road Improvements Paid for by Shale Gas Drillers

Pennsylvania’s rural roads are seeing upgrades because of gas drilling activity. When drilling comes to a municipality or county, and with it an increase in truck traffic, drillers step up to the plate and repair the roads that they use. Most of the time roads are left in better shape than before drilling began.

West Virginia is now starting to see the same improvements with their roads:

Some West Virginia secondary roads could see significant improvement as a result of new laws passed last month to regulate natural gas drilling across the state.

A section of the Natural Gas Horizontal Wells Control Act signed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin last month requires firms applying for drilling permits with the Department of Environmental Protection enter into agreements with the state Division of Highways to make sure any roads used to access well sites are preserved and maintained.

These new agreements could also mean that residents along roads used by drilling companies may end up with better roads once firms have finished the bulk of their work.

"We already are seeing it, but I think you’ll start seeing more of that," said Brent Walker, communications director for the Department of Transportation.

In August 2010, the Division of Highways implemented an Oil and Gas Road Policy to begin requiring drillers to begin negotiating agreements with the state to care for the roads they damage. The policy was revised and finalized in February 2011.

Agreements require companies to meet with highways engineers to review the roads they intend to use, discuss maintenance requirements and determine roads need any initial improvements the roads before they can be used.

Chesapeake Energy informed the Division of Highways last fall that it would spend up to $70 million resurfacing and repairing roads in the Northern Panhandle. Other companies, such as Consol and its subsidiary, CNX Gas Corp., have pledged millions of dollars of support in that region as well.

"So there’s a win-win there: residents get a nice surface to drive on and the drillers are able to safely and effectively travel," Walker said.*

*Charleston Daily Mail (Jan 2, 2012) – Gas drilling could improve secondary roads