Tue., 12:26pm: Oil, gas reps meet

CADIZ – The panel of oil and gas representatives met Monday at the Puskarich Library.

Harrison County Commissioner Dale Norris said he appreciated the movement the county has seen on road issues.

“Talks are ongoing, repairs are under way, and we have several companies in discussion who will be working together to repair roads where they share Road-Use Maintenance Agreements on that section of road,” Norris said.

Sheriff Ronald Myers introduced members of the ODOT Special Hauling Permit Section who were on hand to explain the permitting procedure for oversized and super loads.

“Some of the hauling permits that come through the county … that are being permitted are not on the best roads. I believe that the county manager should be involved,” Myers said. He questioned the process citing situations where property and guardrails on state Route 646 had been damaged by oversized loads and cases on state Route 519 where loads had bellied out while attempting to cross an intersection in New Athens and U.S. Route 250 near Harrisville.

Jeff G. Honefanger, ODOT Special Hauling Permits manager, addressed the New Athens incidents.

“There is a plant that builds large tanks – they are too tall, so there are bridge issues on state Route 7 and U.S. Route 22, and ODOT can not go back to a manufacturer and tell them, you built it, sorry you can not move it,” Honefanger said.

“Companies are supposed to look at that route prior to hauling, that is their responsibility,” Honefanger, explained.

Myers said that with the cost of fuel it may not be feasible for out-of-state companies to drive the route prior to the trip.

“In that case they can drive an escort vehicle and the driver could ride along and inspect the route.” Honefanger replied.

“We do not have expertise in the capabilities of the vehicles,” said Michael Moreland, ODOT permits supervisor. “It is up to the driver of that vehicle to be able to maneuver without adversely impacting roadways.”

“If they are not in compliance that is when we turn to our friends in the the Highway Patrol and local enforcement,” he said.

The sheriff also questioned oversized loads with a full escort “pushing people off into the ditch. I think that is another important part of the permitting process. We don’t have wide roads, but we can’t have people running off into the ditches because these wide loads force them off.”

“I have told people calling in, ‘Go to the fog line and stop if you have to and if they hit you, they hit you,'” Myers said. “They don’t like to hear that because they are trying to avoid an accident.”

“Depending on the roadway, generally speaking a permitted load can not exceed 55 mph period,” added Honefanger. “We get into structural issues where the maximum speed limit over a bridge is 40 mph and we can have further reductions based on moving that vehicle onto a structure.”

“We need to know when a carrier is not doing what we are expecting them to do,” Honefanger stated. “If they do not comply, we can stop issuing permits to that company.”

“We issued 1,315 permits from our office,” said Honefanger. “We do not have the personnel to go out and measure every permit application or vehicle that submitted a permit application.”

“Your local deputies or other local law enforcement have the authority to stop these loads and check their permit,” Honefanger added.

When asked about using Industrial Park Road as a bypass for loads going through downtown Cadiz, Honefanger explained it is not under ODOT’s jurisdiction. “Our jurisdiction ends on the state highway. If that (road) does not have a U.S. number or state route number, we cannot issue a permit for it.”

State Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, also spoke.

“I think it is timely that you are talking about infrastructure and roads,” he said. “I want to point out and give you an update. We were able to include an amendment in the transportation budget regarding the oil and gas infrastructure task force, and part of the reason that I feel it was important to have that included was through the concerns regarding the longterm traffic plans for the infrastructure in our area.”

“Certainly in Harrison County, we can take a look at what is happening at MarkWest and at the plant in Scio, with Routes 151 and 22, there is a lot of concern going forward about how we are going to handle the volume of activity that is coming through,” he said.

“We had a meeting here last week with OMEGA and one question still on minds is the severance tax,” Gentile said, adding the issue has been tabled in the Senate.

“One of the issues I have been making is that in our part of the state, we are going to be contributing a lot more in terms of income tax, in terms of motor fuel tax, in terms of sales tax,” he continued. “I think it’s fair for us to ask that if there is additional revenue going to be generated, how can we keep that here in our region.

“There has been discussion from as far back as I can remember about the need to expand the corridor from Pittsburgh to Columbus,” he said.

“Obviously we did not have the need or the revenue to pursue that in the past, but now I feel we have the situation which dictates that we discuss that option.

“We are drafting legislation on what I refer to as the oil and gas reinvestment act, how are we going to be able to stream some of that money back from the state into our area,” he said.

He commended Harrison County commissioners for their proposal to the state for consideration on the severance tax issue in the budget.

Gentile added there is great need to also have a conversation about clean drinking water for a lot of our state communities,

In other matters, Eric Mize, EP/PA Manager for Momentum in Scio, said he agrees that with all of the revenue being generated by the industry, some of that money should go back to the local communities for infrastructure improvements, considering the inability to drink the water in the village of Scio.

Gentile said it is a broad issue and that he has a bill that would aid local communities in financing who needs access to clean drinking water. He added many legislators are shocked to hear that there are many communities in Ohio that still do not have access to water.

Mark Kowalski, director of operations in the Harrison Hills City School District, brought a schedule of the bus routes for the 2103-14 school year to hand out to contractors and township trustees.

Kowalski said that the bus routes run 12 hours each day beginning at 7:30 a.m. with 17 regular routes and two handicap routes.

It was noted Chevron is keeping the electronic message signs in place on Route 250 despite a delay in the delivery of the new drilling rig that should be on site within two weeks.

County Road Superintendent Jim Albright discussed issues with the panel, and Tim Kinney of Hess told Albright a sign issue at the intersection of county Roads 12 and 13 with Hess vehicles would be remedied soon.

Also, Albright and County Engineer Rob Sterling reported that a “good bit” of progress had been made on area road repairs.

Chesapeake is meeting with other RUMA holders on county Roads 12 and 45, and Gulfport is working on county Road 61. Atlas is doing daily base repairs to county Roads 25 and 43.

Sterling told the group that the county had applied for grant money to conduct speed surveys on several county roads. Unless the speed limit has been journalized at a lower limit, all county and township roads are 55 mph. Once the speed surveys are complete the state can lower the speed limits and then the sheriff can enforce lower speeds.

Myers also told the group there have been complaints on trucks speeding through New Rumley.

“Please address your vendors and remind them that there are children playing in town and we are going to be enforcing that zone.”

Chris Wood, Harrison County Manager for ODOT District 11 reminded representatives that ODOT updates its work schedule every Friday on its Facebook page. Albright added that information on the county road projects can be obtained by calling the county garage.

And Jerry Males of MarkWest said that company will be striping Industrial Park Road Thursday and begin sealing on the road after Labor Day.