2011-09-29 / Local & State

PennDOT: Roads Used By Drillers In Better Shape

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) – Fewer Pennsylvania roads used by heavy vehicles tied to the Marcellus Shale need major repair this year because the state and natural gas industry are working closer together to keep an eye on the roadways, a state transportation official said.

PennDOT deputy secretary Scott Christie said 10 miles of roads have major damage at least partially caused by trucks working with companies drilling into the lucrative Marcellus Shale, down from about 400 miles across the commonwealth last year.

The Centre Daily Times reported Christie’s comments Thursday at an event called Transportation Safety Day sponsored by the industry group, the Marcellus Shale Coalition.

The industry has spent more than $400 million fixing Pennsylvania roads, and that operators are much more prepared going into the winter season, organization president Kathryn Klaber

“We’re going into this winter season much more prepared, and that’s in large part due to greater collaboration between (PennDOT) districts and our own operators,’’ Klaber said.

The event was aimed mainly to educate carriers and truck drivers supporting the natural gas industry about Pennsylvania’s regulations, and improve safe operating practices.

A review of inspections performed by state police on commercial motor vehicles used in support of Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations in 2010 revealed 56 percent resulted in either the vehicle or driver being placed out of service for serious safety violations.

Heavier enforcement has dropped the noncompliance rate to about 45 percent in the most recent study, but state trooper Matthew Knock said that’s still too high. Knock performs inspections on gas industry-related vehicles in Bradford County.

Dean Riland, safety director for the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, said his industry is being given a bad name by a few bad actors who had gained a large amount of work in the Marcellus by spending less on safety and underbidding the competition.

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