There is a catch though. The money is obtained through a grant program that is administered by the Texas Department of Transportation, and the requirements for the grant are still up in the air.
“The bill (Senate Bill 1747) requires TxDOT to develop criteria for the awarding of the grants for transportation infrastructure projects on county roads and sets out criteria requirements and provisions regarding the grant application process,” according to a bill analysis.
Not all of the responsibility falls on TxDOT through; there are certain things each county must do before it can even apply for the grants.
“The commissioners court must designate reinvestment zones,” Bee County Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said.
The reinvestment zones are the only places in which the grants can be used.
Additionally, the bill says that each county must “create an advisory board to advise the county on the establishment, administration and expenditures of a county energy transportation reinvestment zone.”
The bill also stipulates who must make up the advisory board; “three oil and gas company representatives who perform company activities in the county and are local taxpayers” and two public members.
DeWitt has his own personal ideas as to whom he would like to see on the advisory board should the commissioners court decide it wants to apply for a grant.
“I would want a local company to protect and voice the local investment and big companies to shepherd the how and when things will be done,” he said.
According to DeWitt, Bee County has 400 miles of paved roads in all and the majority of oil field activity – approximately 80 to 90 percent – takes place in Precinct 2, the northern part of the county.
He believes that Bee County has not had road conditions as bad as some of the neighboring counties.
“Our oil companies have been good neighbors, and they have helped us maintain those roads to an optimum degree,” he said.
The bill does not go into effect until Sept. 1 so the commissioners court still has time to decide if Bee County would like to pursue any of the grant funds.