The heavy traffic from the Texas oil boom has done damage to many farm-to-market roads in South and East Texas. The state department lacks the funds to repair the roads because damage has become so extensive.
To remedy the situation, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced last month that instead of repairing the roads, they will convert them to gravel. More than 80 miles of paved road began to literally crumble last week as the TxDOT started laying gravel.
The six counties affected by this gravel road conversion will be Live Oak, LaSalle, Zavala, Dimmit, Reeves and Culberson. The 30 miles of roads that will be turned to gravel were chosen because they are rural routes not eligible for federal funds.
The $225 million in funding found in the final days of the 83rd regular legislative session was only a temporary fix to repair the state-owned roads. TxDOT says $1 billion per year is needed to repair and maintain the oil field roads. Legislation efforts to increase taxes on the companies profiting from the oil boom to help cover the road repair costs failed.
Although TxDOT says gravel is their only option, local farmers and ranchers who live near the roads are upset about the conversion. Resident complaints include damage the gravel roads will do to their cars, heavy rains flushing out the gravel making the roads impassable, and a potential decline in property values.
The speed limit along some segments of these newly graveled roads will decrease to 30 mph. TxDOT officials think this lower speed limit will make the roads safer, making the oil field trucks drive slower within the agriculture traffic in the area.
Residents don’t understand why the Department of Transportation is “going back to the dark ages” by converting the roads to gravel if Texas is touting that the oil boom is thriving and politicians are claiming that the state is economically sound.