CADIZ - The Harrison County commissioners tabled road-use agreements for Chesapeake Energy during last week's meeting, citing concerns the traffic to and from the wells would stray from the designated routes.
Ryan Dean, manager for corporate development for Chesapeake Energy, spoke for the corporation protesting the plan to include county highways not contained in the haul routes specified in the Road Use and Maintenance Agreement submitted on April 10.
"I think we understand the rational where that is coming from. We have had similar requests in other counties," said Dean. "We have had similar requests that maybe we thought were necessary but those were usually unique.
"We prefer to have one haul route, one way in, one way out, both for cost control, less confusion and we don't want to have a haul route on any agreement longer than necessary," Dean explained. "We think in these two cases the one route north of Scio, I think as Doug put it, the trucks might go down it once but never would again just due to the nature of the road. And the other one off of Route 22 you really don't gain anything by using that as an alternative route to get in there.
"We do realize that with all of this activity the county has been working to ensure traffic stays on the right routes," Dean continued. "That is something we constantly work with our vendors on and I think we have done a fairly good job but we will always have to continue fighting that battle.
"We would rather have all traffic use truck routes, but once on site, If they want to run down into Scio to buy lunch in their pickup truck, we think that is pretty reasonable," he said.
Commissioner Dale Norris explained the county has had problems with short cuts in the past, where the county had to use Ohio Public Works money to fix the damage.
"Our goal is to protect the taxpayers of the county. We welcome the oil and gas, but as far as I am concerned the people can put up with an inconvenience but they should not be burdened with the cost," Norris said.
"I think the solution is to document the adjacent route and that documentation will keep on file and you will have it on file and afterwards if there is evidence that there is a load or loads that have gone down that route ," Dean replied. "If there is a load that has gone down that route and there is damage then or road degradation, we are not going anywhere, we can always extend the road-use agreement.
"There is always that one load, that one errant truck driver. All it takes is one load that gets over in the ditch and we are going to take responsibility, or the vendor will take responsibility," he said.
Dean expressed concerns that due to intermingling of contractors and several overlapping pipeline and drilling projects that it could be very confusing to correctly place blame. "
"In the RUMA agreements we do not ask you to post bond, we just ask you to assume the responsibility" Norris explained. "If there is more than one company working along any road then they would all share the responsibility."
Doug Crabtree of the county engineer's office stated the majority of the well service trucks are painted white making it difficult to identify which company errant vehicles belong to and who the driver is without tracking the vehicle to its destination.
Sheriff Joe Meyers suggested Chesapeake use the photographic speed limit signs to monitor the traffic, to which Dean responded that his company is re-evaluating the effectiveness of the signs.
"We all know the workers are going to come that way, once they find out it is shorter to get into town and get something to eat or whatever they do, but once they start coming out of there and leaving at night," the sheriff stated, "hat is going to be more wear and tear on that road that the county or the township does not have the money for, and I think that is our biggest concern."
"That extra traffic on there is going to do some damage, that is the reason ODOT District 11 came up with the RUMA agreements," Norris stated.
"It is going to take better communication, it is going to take signage, it is going to take enforcement. We will approach it from a lot of different angles," Dean said.
The board decided to allow the RUMAs with the documentation of the adjacent routes and the pledge to monitor traffic on the designated county roads. Chesapeake will amend the two RUMAs to include the changes and return to the next meeting requesting approval.
Resident Joyce Klingler asked if there were any plans to fix the damage done to county Road 2 from gas pipelines and well construction. Crabtree reported the road was on the list of maintenance planned now that the paving product companies have began their summer production season.
Crabtree also relayed the ODOT District 11 construction and paving plans for the county in 2013. Four sections of state highway are slated for paving. Listed are a seven-mile section of U.S. Route 250 at Tappan Lake and from east of county Road 501 to Route 22 at Cadiz; a section of county Road 22 from Smyrna to county Road 16 east of Cadiz and state Route 212 from state Route 39 to state Route 151. There is also a bridge deck replacement slated on state Route 519 near Busby Road and two slide repairs on state Route 9 near Vale Road in Jewett and on state Route 800 south of Tippecanoe near Chaney Road.
In other business:
-- Myers reported his office received $30,000 in grants from leftover ARRA funds to purchase a new cruiser.
-- The board approved an agreement with Koon Restoration to repair the steps, porches, soffit and fascia on the courthouse.