Marcellus Shale gas drilling brings heavy truck traffic to local roads that aren't designed to withstand the trucks' weight, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). This causes significant damage to local roadways, putting drivers' safety at risk.
An average truck carrying the fluid used to fracture shale weighs about 33 tons, which far exceeds the weight limit of many roads that the trucks use. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 400 to 1,300 truck trips to complete one gas well, and 1,985 new Marcellus drilling permits were issued in Pennsylvania last year. This puts enormous stress on local roadways, causing major ruts, potholes, and other damage.
In addition to the damage caused by the trucks' weight, the vehicles can also track large amounts of mud and debris onto the road. Piles of gravel, pooling water, and other bad road conditions compound the dangers of damaged roads, making travel extremely treacherous for those driving near drilling sites.
Officials at the Marcellus Shale Coalition acknowledge the damage caused by the trucks but say that drilling companies pay for repairs. However, there is concern about how small townships will pay for the maintenance of the damaged roads in 10 or 15 years, when the drilling companies are gone.