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Fracking Up Our Roadways

Last Monday, a website called published a leaked draft study by the New York State Department of Transportation that suggested that the permitting of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York could have dveastating consequences to state roadways. From the executive summary:

The potential transportation impacts are ominous. Assuming current gas drilling technology and a lower level of development than will be experienced in Pennsylvania the Marcellus region will see a peak year increase of up to 1.5-million heavy truck trips, and induced development may increase peak hour trips by 36,000 trips/hour. While this new traffic will be distributed around the Marcellus region this Discussion Paper suggests that it will be necessary to reconstruct hundreds of miles of roads and scores of bridges and undertake safety and operational improvements in many areas.

The annual costs to undertake these transportation projects are estimated to range from $90 to $156 million for State roads and from $121-$222 million for local roads. There is no mechanism in place allowing State and local governments to absorb these additional transportation costs without major impacts to other programs and other municipalities in the State.

This Discussion Paper also concludes that the New York State Department of Transportation and local governments currently lack the authority and resources necessary to mitigate such problems. And, that if the State is to prepare for and resolve these problems it is time to establish a frank and open dialogue among the many parties involved.

The authors of the NYSDOT draft study note that the assessment only looks at large truck traffic generated by haydraulic fracturing of gas wells: “…traffic associated with commuting, provisioning, inspection and other activities at the well sites is not considered, nor, for that matter, is traffic associated with industry activities away from the well sites.”

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