Hey, TXDOT, this is killing us
Feb 16, 2012 | 1329 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Three of Beeville Publishing Co.’s community newspapers serve four counties directly involved in the Eagle Ford Shale petroleum play. And all too frequently now, each issue seems to carry a story of a major wreck and deaths on the highways in these counties.

It’s a bit anecdotal simply to say wrecks are on the rise, but the Eagle Ford play is only in its infancy.

The Oil & Gas Financial Journal reported in early December: “Since the beginning of (2011), the (Eagle Ford) play has doubled – up 107 rigs, accounting for 44 percent of the entire U.S. rig county’s growth... The rig count in the play currently stands at nearly 214, but an increase to 250 is 2012.”

As a simple drive north to San Antonio quickly demonstrates, there’s far more population growth and resulting traffic than just the well crews. And the carnage on our highways is rapidly increasing as not only more vehicles and large trucks are on the roads, but also sleepy-eyed shift workers trying to make their way at all hours of the day and night.

The Texas Department of Transportation must turn some attention to the arteries that connect the Eagle Ford area to San Antonio and the petroleum ports of Houston and Corpus Christi. The rise in deaths on Highways 181 and 72 are becoming routine on our front pages. No doubt there are other vital highways that need expansion too.

The Eagle Ford play is a boon to the local economy and the nation’s energy needs. With an expected lifespan of 15-20 years of drilling and rework, traffic will not be going away. Should gas prices rebound, we also can expect continued drilling and development in the southern portion of the play, which includes much of Bee County.

This region is full of hard-working Americans who no doubt are proud to play a vital part of this country’s energy future. But no one should have to pay for it with their lives and the lives of their family and friends. Our highways should not be a killing field.

The state of Texas stands to make great financial gains off the petroleum flowing from the Eagle Ford Shale. TXDOT really needs to focus some funds on this once ignored but now booming area.

– Jeff Latcham

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