Some companies unhappy with road fees

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Last spring, large energy industry vehicles and the annual thaw left some county roads impassable.

Moffat County Road 4 in northern Moffat County was closed for three months after energy industry vehicles damaged it.

County officials say they hope a new road maintenance policy approved Tuesday by the county commissioners will keep roads intact as oil and gas production increases in the region.

But some companies aren't happy with the fees.

The new road maintenance permits, which commissioners approved Tuesday, allow energy companies to maintain some county roads.

Companies will be allowed to work on secondary roads the county doesn't regularly maintain.

The smaller roads are usually the ones that get damaged the most.

County officials met with representatives from the oil and gas industry in the past few months to work out a plan for maintaining secondary roads.

County officials say they hope companies will get permits and improve roads before they get damaged.

"We don't expect the oil companies to come in and build up Moffat County roads, but at the same time, we have to protect the taxpayers," Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

An official from the county road and bridge department will meet with the company at a road in question, take pictures and tell the company what work needs to be done.

By having companies get permits to make repairs, the county can get an idea of who is using the roads, said Linda DeRose, manager of the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department.

In the past, when roads were damaged, the county didn't know which companies caused it, DeRose said.

Companies will be charged a $250 fee for the permits in addition to the cost to maintain the roads.

But the $250 fee raised the ire of one county commissioner Tuesday and some representatives in the energy industry.

Commissioner Tom Gray voted against the resolution because of the fee.

Gray said he supports the new rules, but he didn't think the fee was fair.

Marianna Raftopoulos, a former Moffat County commissioner now working as a consultant for energy companies, said in a letter to commissioners that the fee was unfair.

"I understand there may be some administrative fees, but I think that the taxes these companies pay will mitigate any administration costs," she said in the letter.

The fee will cover the county's administrative costs as well as the cost to have a road and bridge official to check on the roads, DeRose said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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