Shale drillers spent $411M over three years to help rebuild Pennsylvania roads

Tom Fontaine
| Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marcellus shale drillers spent $411 million in the past three years to help rebuild Pennsylvania roads, the head of an industry advocacy group said this morning.

"We're not just ripping up roads and leaving (repairs) for someone else to pay for," Marcellus Shale Coalition President and Executive Director Kathryn Klaber said at an industry safety conference in Cecil.

Klaber said a Marcellus commission that Gov. Tom Corbett appointed requested the data in May. Study results are based on a survey of 28 coalition members working in Pennsylvania, she said.

The truck fleets hauling water, pipes and drilling equipment have stressed both local and state roads as the industry has attempted to tap a gas-rich shale layer about one mile underground. Drillers use a process called hydraulic fracturing, which requires them to truck or pipe more than 4 million gallons of water to each well.

The study revealed 79 percent of the money went toward improving state roads, while the rest went toward repairing or repaving locally owned roads.

PennDOT and local municipalities requested some work because damage presented an immediate safety risk, while industry companies rebuilt some roads beforehand to accommodate planned drilling activities, Klaber said.

PennDOT Deputy Secretary Scott Christie said the agency is conducting its own study to determine if there's a gap between industry contributions and damage caused.

Christie said the state has placed restrictions on about 4,000 miles of road in Pennsylania as a result of Marcellus activities. That's one-tenth of the roadways the state maintains.

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