If you don’t know (or haven’t already guessed), most are negative.

Roads in the rural areas where most of the production takes place are particular victims, as trucks hauling heavy equipment pulverize gravel and splinter pavement. Unless they regularly use them, though, most people don’t realize that county commissioners had their hands full maintaining these assets even before the recent production explosion.

The challenge, as always, is finding the money to repair these roads. Rural areas have fewer people and thus less sales and property tax revenue. Since they’re by definition low-volume you can’t, say, establish a tollway authority to collect revenue. Some state DOTs are better than others at working with local counterparts to access federal funding programs.

Got an opinion you’d like to share? E-mail me at sjohnston@hanleywood.com

I learned yesterday of two other twists:

  • Only 12% of production occurs on public land
  • There’s no mechanism for alternatively fueled vehicles to contribute to the Highway Trust Fund

I was at a Construction Writers Association conference, an annual event that brings in economists, builders, and association executives to share their insight. One presentation was by the about-to-be-launched (Nov. 1) Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance. The organization doesn’t serve producers, the oil and natural gas companies whose activities are tearing up roads in California, Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, but the manufacturers and dealerships that sell the equipment that does the drilling, pumping, etc.

We were told that oil and gas companies are working with the communities they’re in to fund road repairs and improvements. If you live or work in one, I’d love to hear examples of these outreach efforts and how they’re working. E-mail sjohnston@hanleywood.com.