Getting county byways on road to recovery

Commissioners discuss effect of energy companies on thruways

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On Monday, the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department had to close County Road 68 because gas company vehicles had damaged it so badly it was a danger to the traveling public.

It was just one more instance highlighting the adverse effect energy development is having on county roads.

Some gas companies also are failing to obtain the necessary permits, such as special mobile equipment, mobile machinery and driveway permits, that are required in Moffat County.

The Moffat County commissioners are planning to meet with a half-dozen of the gas companies that are active in Moffat County to address these road related problems.

On Tuesday, the commissioners hoped to meet with Yates Petroleum Company, the business that owns the trucks that damaged C.R. 68, but Yates representatives missed the meetings because of a scheduling miscommunication.

In lieu of Yates' absence, the commissioners discussed possible solutions to the road issues.

"We appreciate the oil and gas companies being here, but they need to cooperate.

"It needs to go both ways," Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

Tayyara traveled county roads in the northern part of Moffat County -- where the brunt of energy effects have occurred -- Friday with Road and Bridge Department Director Bill Mack.

County roads 4, 101, 62 and 68 are in rough shape, Tayyara said. But C.R. 68 is the most severely damaged, with ruts between 1 to 4 feet deep in places.

Since then, Yates completed some repairs, Mack said.

"We have to work together with these companies, Commissioner Darryl Steele said.

"Their obligation as companies is to work with us and not just go in and tear them (roads) up and leave them," he said.

The commissioners discussed requiring companies to upgrade roads in areas where they plan to develop natural gas fields and just repair roads in areas where they are exploring.

They have yet to decide whether the county will make the repairs and the companies will pay for them, or whether the companies will make the repairs.

The commissioners also are developing county ordinances for overweight and oversize vehicles, Steele said.

When the county is notified that a gas company has received approval to drill a well, the county sends the company a list of the permits that are required in Moffat County, Moffat County Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock said.

The companies know what is required of them when working in Moffat County, he said.

"This is a matter of them choosing not to follow it," Comstock said.

The Sheriff's Office can ticket companies for failing to get the proper permits for their machinery, but sometimes tracking down the companies that own the equipment is hard, Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said.

Some at the meeting favored calling the companies to tell them what they need to do in the county.

Commissioner Tom Gray favored ticketing companies that don't follow county regulations.

"In the end, it has to be like any of the other laws we enforce. I don't think we're asking over and beyond what we expect of ourselves and every other citizen in the county," Gray said.

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