March 22, 2012
AUSTIN - Increased energy exploration and production activity throughout the state is just one reason why Texas is creating jobs and remains economically strong while other states are facing budget reductions, decreased revenues and fewer jobs.
But, more activity means more impacts to state highways, leaving TxDOT with immediate and long-term infrastructure concerns that need to be addressed.
TxDOT recently formed a work group to study the situation and plan to join with representatives of the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Railroad Commission, counties and the energy sector to find ways to address the issue.
"The energy sector is critically important to the state," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "TxDOT will work closely with industry and state and local officials to address any impacts on infrastructure and continue our efforts to provide safe and reliable transportation solutions for Texas."
Nearly 1,200 loaded trucks are needed to bring just one gas well into production—the traffic equivalent to roughly 8 million cars.
The multi-agency task force will focus on gathering data and sharing information with statewide transportation partners to study the impact these trucks are having on the stateís roadways. The task force is challenged with developing long-term funding strategies and plans to address infrastructure concerns well into the future.
"The energy resources being produced in these areas are vital to the state for a number of reasons," said Fred Underwood, member of the Texas Transportation Commission. "Besides being a fuel source for citizens, these oil, gas and wind energy resources are necessary to keep Texas economically strong and vital."
Through continued data gathering and sharing the work group will help identify future energy developments and identify and strategize the use of new technology to reduce the impact of heavy loads on the highways. And, this research effort will help TxDOT meet its goals of maintaining a safe system, addressing congestion, connecting Texas communities, and becoming a best-in-class state agency.
"Iím pleased to see TxDOT taking a lead role in partnering with state and energy industry leaders to make sure needs are being met while we balance the impacts to local roadways and communities," said Rep. Larry Phillips, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee. "This balancing act will require finding workable solutions for everybody that keep our roadways in good condition and our energy industry strong."
"Preservation of our transportation system in the face of this type of demand is a very complex issue to tackle," said Sen. Tommy Williams. "I know my colleagues on the Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Committee will appreciate hearing the work groupís proposals as we consider our interim charges related to oversize and overweight vehicles on Texas roadways."
"This is about a cooperative effort among a diverse group of industry, state and community representatives to address an issue that is important to us all," Wilson said. "We look forward to making this work."
TxDOT will use the information gathered by this task force to support the work of the Legislature on interim charges focused on oversize/overweight vehicles and the energy industry. The work group plans to convene its first meeting in April with key stakeholders.