With all the money they generate, you'd be forgiven if you thought the roads to America's oil wells and shale fields would be paved in platinum and lined in gold. The reality is, though, that these roads are so devastated that they're starting to actively hurt the oil industry.

A large portion of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the semis that bring things in and out of the fields. As Bloomberg points out in an excellent piece, the popularity of fracking has required huge imports of water, sand, chemicals and steel structuring to the fields, consequently increasing the weight and frequency of trucks on roads that were originally designed for cattle ranchers.

"If you drive a cattle truck one or two times a year, you're not affecting that road very much, but the first day you drive a 175,000-pound substructure of a drilling rig up that road you begin to destroy it," DeWitt County judge Daryl Fowler told Bloomberg.

There are other issues, though, that are making life difficult for the men and women in America's oil industry. Roads are crumbling due to torrential rains and spring thaws in addition to the weight of trucks. The result is a situation that's not only hurting profits, it's increasing accidents.

Solutions, meanwhile, are in short supply. Tax dollars are short, with Texas estimating it'd need to spend $1 billion just to maintain roads in its energy producing regions. That's equal to the total road maintenance costs for the rest of the state – to which we ask, wouldn't it make sense for the oil companies, whose trucks are responsible for much of the wear and tear on these roads, to chip in for their upkeep?

Head over to Bloomberg for a comprehensive piece on the problems facing these surprisingly important roads, and what it will take to fix them.


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  • 90 Comments
      FordGo
      • 5 Months Ago
      And states like Pennsylvania which gets so little revenue from fracking will be at a LOSE just from road repair, not to mention the illegal dumping of waste into our fresh water streams and the killing off of hunting game. In other words: Warning Vote Republican and turn your state into a SLUM.
        FordGo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @FordGo
        Republican Motto: Tax Payers FUND Corporations, we don't fund you.
        eye.surgeon
        • 5 Months Ago
        @FordGo
        Are you joking? Virtually every inner city slum in the US is completely controlled by the Democrat party and have been for decades.
          FordGo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @eye.surgeon
          Poor people are kept poor with poor schools and jobs being pushed overseas. Poor people also don't have the money to move. Yes, Dems don't let poor people die, what's your point.
          Carpinions
          • 5 Months Ago
          @eye.surgeon
          "Virtually every inner city slum in the US is completely controlled by the Democrat party..." What does that even mean? The party itself runs the slums? Slums happen due to neglect, not because someone votes to make them that way. This notion that the Democrats are responsible for crime because most of their voters are in big cities is a patheticaly stupid misnomer. Democrats do well where populations are higher. Where does crime happen usually? Where there are more people. Where are most people? In cities. It's like blaming the Democrats for water being wet. But let's not talk about the energy industry and its incessant attempts to avoid responsibility for anything they do (which is actually much more germane to this AB post, and not inner city crime), however many miners get killed on the job, however lax their workplace standards are, etc. And that happens, usually, away form cities and major population zones.
      T. C.
      • 5 Months Ago
      Texas is a Red State, therefore they don't believe that corporations or rich people should ever have to pay their fair share to support the commons; that is to be the burden of working people.
        clquake
        • 5 Months Ago
        @T. C.
        It's funny how Texans keep saying how awesome Texas is, and how much of a budget surplus they have, but yet they keep pestering the Feds to build a fence for the border. If their so anti socialism, why don't they just build it themselves instead of begging for a hand out.
          Carpinions
          • 5 Months Ago
          @clquake
          They do the same thing in AZ. "OBAMA'S LETTING ALL DEE MEX-EE-CANS IN!" Nevermind the fact that he's sent more back than any other president. My family and I drove to SD from PHX a couple weeks back and there were Border Patrol SUVs at regular intervals, as well as a few checkpoints. Yet if you ask the average Arizonan, they act like there's a huge slide at the border that Mexicans are just sliding into America on. I guess we're supposed to set up a Korean peninsula-style DMZ between us and Mexico that's patrolled by the military 24/7/365 under shoot-to-kill orders, or something...
      Brodz
      • 5 Months Ago
      "A large portion of the blame can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the semis that bring things in and out of the fields. to which we ask, wouldn't it make sense for the oil companies, whose trucks are responsible for much of the wear and tear on these roads, to chip in for their upkeep? " It's not the semi's to blame. It's the oil companies. Get them to fix the roads.
      Me
      • 5 Months Ago
      A problem that could be seen coming, but all in charge agreed to let it go until the public is forced to pay for corporate damage. Nothing new here in the US. "tax dollars are short"? As usual in republican-land
      FordGo
      • 5 Months Ago
      This is just the latest example of how Rich Republicans make the 99% Republicans look like a Bunch of Monkeys. They make you look like fools, now CUTTING the Royalties they pay you to drill and pollute your land, and you didn't see that coming? http://www.propublica.org/article/unfair-share-how-oil-and-gas-drillers-avoid-paying-royalties
      knightrider_6
      • 5 Months Ago
      Air pollution, water pollution, depletion of groundwater, earthquakes and now crumbling roads - Fracking is a gift that keeps on giving.
      groingo
      • 5 Months Ago
      Greedy bas-ards should be forced to prepay localities for damages rather than making the tax payers pick up the tab for road abuse.
      FordGo
      • 5 Months Ago
      The US Now Employs more people in the SOLAR industry, then in the Coal and Auto Industry!. Got it, it's now time to RETIRE Tillerson, and Get Musk in there and TRANSITION Exxon into the FUTURE, where the JOBS ARE. Exxon should be moving into Solar in the Southwest, and it should be transitioning all it's employees into SOLAR and Wind NOW.
        Jason Krumvieda
        • 5 Months Ago
        @FordGo
        My REPLY to you comment will INCLUDE excessive use of CAPITAL letters because.....REASONS!
        Joe
        • 5 Months Ago
        @FordGo
        According to the Solar Foundation there were about 142k Americans in the solar industry. http://thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2013 There are over 17,000 car dealerships. If each employs only 9 people that's more than the solar industry just at dealerships. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/08/25/number-of-u-s-car-dealer-rises-for-first-time-in-a-decade/
      knightrider_6
      • 5 Months Ago
      We are overthinking this problem. Big oil should promise Rick Perry a cushy job after he retires and he will gladly get those roads fixed. Even if they have to pay him $500k it is a steal compared to billions needed to fix the roads.
        FordGo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        rick Perry has earned a far larger bribe/salary for what he's done.
        GoodCheer
        • 5 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Definite upvote for such practical and savvy policy advice. Well done sir.
      skoobey
      • 5 Months Ago
      Ha-ha-ha. I don't think so. If oil companies need the better roads to keep their profits up, they will build them ASAP, they won't wait for no government funds. So, this is basically a lie, trying to put public funding into road construction, so that road companies would profit, while every other public funded institution lacks. No tnx. You need 100 million dollars for a road in order to earn 1 billion? You'll find a way to make it yourself.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 5 Months Ago
        @skoobey
        Private companies do not have an easy time building their infrastructure due to government's monopoly on infrastructure.
          skoobey
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Oh my! Maybe we should let them own public roads, that is a good idea. And government monopoly on law and taxes is preposterous! Why not let oil companies be in charge of that, too! aahahaahaha
          waetherman
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          No, private companies don't have an easy time building infrastructure because they don't have a long-term interest in the success of the infrastructure. If extractive industries have to build roads, they build them in the cheapest way possible to last only so long as they need them. And they abhor any tax in industry that would dictate how they support their own infrastructure.
          Darren McLellan
          • 5 Months Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Are you really this numb? Monopolies are something private interests ONLY can have. May want to put down the Rand and pick up the Websters.
      Revis Goodworth
      • 5 Months Ago
      Many times it is not a HUGE oil company that is doing the drilling - often time we have small firms who are working under contracts or even wildcatting on their own - to suggest that these companies build the roads is repugnant. If we use this logic, we should demand that Democrats build the housing to house their southern roach infestation that they are condoning and making happen. And then we should send a bill to all of the voters of Democrats for the cost of their policies!
        clquake
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        How about we let the Republicans states pay their own (go bankrupt), and return the federal tax dollars that the blue states have to give up to keep the redneck crap states going. Isn't that what capitalism is all about? Taking care of your own.
        FordGo
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Revis Goodworth
        What the heck are you talking about: "If we use this logic, we should demand that Democrats build the housing to house their southern roach infestation". You know most of us don't listen to high school right wing Drop Out radio, so you'll have to clarify. But, how about we make the Wall Street Crooks pay for their own bail out next time. How about you tell your Tea Party senile Nut Republican house to stop kissing the criminal class's axx next time. How about you look around and do something about Global Warming Drought too, by the way. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu Let's face it, your party is so senile and incompetent you should be taking free GED classes instead of talking politics and think you know Anything. http://www.gedforfree.com
          FordGo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @FordGo
          Wall Street paid Pennies on the Dollar, from the damage and fraud they implemented. Are you all really that Uninformed about the size of the CDO markets? TRILLIONS of dollars of wagers backed by No Capital.
          Victor Kuc
          • 5 Months Ago
          @FordGo
          Given that the banks repaid the bailout money in full, you defeated your own argument.
          FordGo
          • 5 Months Ago
          @FordGo
          Typical Incompetent Republican attempting to blame RAMPANT Wall Street / Real Estate Fraud on "the government". This is why you people should stop voting, your too lazy to get educated on issues. Since you don't seem to know much, here is something you'd better learn. The Koch's want to cut Your Social Security by 60%. They talk about grandfathering you old geezers in, but let me tell you that will never pass. And if it does, you're going to take the 60% hit too. Just a warning. You'd better Learn Quick what those Nuts want to do to you. Let me tell you something else, You Ignore the Fracking pollution of your drinking water, like it's not happening. That's a Stupid Policy, when you're dying of Cancer, remember, you could have listened to a "Libtard" and have your life saved. But, you were suckered by some high school dropout on Fox News.
      Chris Westcott
      • 5 Months Ago
      Oil companies are routinely listed as the most profitable enterprises in the nation. They can afford to build those roads. After all, they will benefit from the road much more than the "cattle truck one or two times a year"
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