Texas Roads: The oil boom has a price

Aug 21, 2013

A damaged portion of the IH 37 frontage road, south of FM 99 in Live Oak County, Texas on Friday, August 16, 2013. The road is on a list of roads that the Texas Department of Transportation has announced will be converted to gravel because the agency lacks funds to keep them maintained at a safe level.
A damaged portion of the IH 37 frontage road, south of FM 99 in Live Oak County, Texas on Friday, August 16, 2013. The road is on a list of roads that the Texas Department of Transportation has announced will be converted to gravel because the agency lacks funds to keep them maintained at a safe level.
Credit Eddie Seal / Texas Tribune

Next week 80 miles of Texas roads will begin the conversion from paved to gravel according to the Texas Tribune.  The oil boom has significantly increased traffic on many farm roads in South and East Texas.  The damage is extensive.  Dave Glessner, spokesman for the TxDOT says, “Since paving roads is too expensive and there is not enough funding to repave them all, our only other option to make them safer is to turn them into gravel roads."

The change is not without criticism.  Darlene Meyer is a rancher who has lived in LaSalle County since 1960.  She says the roads are so bad she’s worried about popping a tire or breaking an axle.  She’s also worried that the change to gravel could drive down her property value.  State Senator Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, is one of the harshest critics of the conversions. He said TxDOT did not consult lawmakers and community leaders before unveiling the plan.

In the last of the legislative special sessions, $225 million was allotted to repair county roads affected by energy development.  TxDOT officials said the repair and maintenance of oil field roads will cost about $1 billion dollars a year.