County Judge David Silva said that, indeed, people are seeing more traffic, but that is on the state roads and highways. Senate Bill 1778 isn’t for state roads. It is for county road repair.
“There are not that many roads for us,” Silva said. “If they continue this, and we get into natural gas rather than oil, and we have more gas than oil, then at that point we would become involved.”
This doesn’t mean the county isn’t doing preemptive work to keep the roads repaired.
About a year ago, the county commissioners signed agreements with the oil and gas drillers that these companies would pay $9,500 for each well permitted or drilled — depending upon the agreement.
However, this doesn’t amount to a windfall of money. These agreements have since expired and because of possible legislation such as SB 1778, their renewal was postponed.
“The oil drilling in Bee County is very limited,” Silva said. “They are building pipelines all over the place.”
Probably the biggest benefit the county has seen is the replacement of the low water crossing on King Lane in northern Bee County.
This project has had its road bumps, including the change from a bridge to a better than existing low water crossing. But it is still coming in at no cost the county.
Texstar Midstream and Teak Midstream together contributed $250,000 for the project.
For counties like Karnes, McMullen and Live Oak, the road repair situation is far more dire.
The Senate Finance Committee Monday considered this new legislation by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, that would provide funding for critical transportation infrastructure projects in the Eagle Ford Shale and other shale regions.
SB 1778 would direct a percentage of severance taxes on oil and gas production to facilitate transportation infrastructure projects in the shale regions, including comprehensive construction, maintenance and improvement of county and state roads impacted by oil and gas development.
“The Eagle Ford Shale is a tremendous economic asset to South Texas, but increased truck traffic has strained our rural roadways, threatening public safety and commerce,” said Sen. Zaffirini, whose district includes the majority of rigs and production and the top-producing counties. “My bill would ensure that a portion of tax revenue generated by oil and gas production would stay in the region and address a critical need.”
The Texas Department of Transportation has estimated that it could cost $1 billion to repair the roads impacted by energy production in the Eagle Ford Shale and other areas of the state.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.