Fracking fall-off leaves South Texas roads a mess

DeWitt County judge says repairs will cost millions

SAN ANTONIO – The roads in DeWitt County, and many others across South Texas, are in need of significant repairs after a drop-off in the oil and gas industry over the last year.

DeWitt County Judge Daryl Fowler said that if it leads to a rig site, it's bound to be a broken road.

"Where the oil is being drilled, those roads total about 342 miles," Fowler said.

Fowler estimates that it will cost DeWitt County $432 million to rebuild its roads. The price tag breaks down to about a half-million dollars per mile.

"We've been able to raise locally and appropriate more than $78 million to the road effort in the last four years, and 80 percent of that money is money that is being taxed to companies like (BHP Billiton). So they are paying a huge price to be here," Fowler said.

The big companies are now working with local leaders to route their trucks around town, especially away from school bus routes.

"Wherever we can, we try to mitigate the use of trucks and use pipelines to pipe our water as best as we can to keep those trucks off the roadway," said Tommy Clark, head of corporate affairs shale at BHP Billiton.

BHP Billiton is just one of many corporations paying high premiums that'll be used to help fix up the communities they're in.

Operations may have made a mess of the roads, but Fowler said the oil boom saved his town in many ways.

"Children that were leaving six years ago, graduating from high school, going to college, didn't have opportunities to come back here to good-paying jobs. And the Eagle Ford Shale has changed that," Fowler said.