County investigating possible road bans to prevent oilfield traffic damage by Dan Singleton, December 25, 2012, Rocky View Weekly
In an effort to better protect the county’s road network from damage caused by heavy oilfield truck traffic, Mountain View County councillors have instructed administration to determine which roadways in the municipality may need to have immediate road bans placed upon them. During last week’s regularly scheduled council meeting, councillors passed a motion calling for the immediate ban at 50 per cent of the Harmattan Road (from Highway 27 south to the Harmattan Hall) and for an investigation to determine which other roads may need similar bans. Council instructed CAO Tony Martens to report back to council on his findings on January 23. Road bans restrict the amount of weight a vehicle can haul on a roadway. Every county road has a legal load limit that is permitted on it, with violators facing fines outlined in a county bylaw. “What it does is reduce the weight on the road and protects it from being damaged,” said Marten. Bans are typically put in place on many county roads in the spring. However, to put bans on roads specifically to protect against heavy oilfield traffic would be something new.
The Dec. 5 motion came after Div. 6 councillor Paddy Munro told council that the Harmattan Road south of Highway 27 is being heavily damaged by oilfield traffic. “I think we have to deal with this,” said Munro. “It is totally out of control and we seem to be sitting back and taking it. They are talking about hundreds of wells (being drilled in the county).” Coun. Kevin Good said county roads have not been built to handle the heavy oilfield traffic that has come with the recent spike in fracking. “There are lots of roads like that (Harmattan Road) and some are worse,” said Good. “They are falling apart and our bases are being trashed. The companies want ultra high frequency roads, so they need to supply ultra high frequency roads. We don’t have those kinds of roads in this county that aren’t provincial.
“If they want 5,000 loads, then they need to build a 5,000 load road before they even start (drilling). Is there a way we can address accumulated and long-term effects on our roads?” CAO Tony Martens said: “You can beat up the surface of the road and fix it and that’s fine, but at some point the road (base) is going to show the stress being put on it and that’s the part we are not being compensated for. “I agree with Councillor Munro that this problem is going to get worse all across the county.” In an interview follow council, Martens said he is not sure which county roads or how many may need to be banned, but he plans to have that information ready for presentation to council on Jan. 23. The county will be having meetings with oil and gas companies in the new year to discuss ways of preventing damage to county roads, he added. “Our concern is what are the long-term impacts on our roads,” he said. “Some of the damage may not show up for a number of years, so what we really want is to get these guys to the table and figure out how we can address this. If there are road damages in the future how do we go about fixing them? “A lot of these roads were built a long time ago and they weren’t built for this kind of traffic, so to send that traffic down there, in some cases it will damage it.” [Emphasis added]