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Gas drilling: Schuyler looks at road regulations

SCHUYLER COUNTY—One of the few ways towns can have control when it comes to gas drilling, is with laws on local roads.
Delta Engineering is starting to work with the Schuyler County Council of Governments to create a municipal road use management guidelines. Steve Messmer, a Delta engineer, said the company started doing this in Sullivan County two years ago. Sullivan now has the guidelines in place. Messmer said Delta is currently working with Steuben, Broome and Tompkins Counties to do the same. Essentially, the counties bordering with Pennsylvania who have to deal with truck traffic from gas drilling.
Messmer explained Delta Engineering helps the towns in a county come together into a consortium to share costs and create uniform road use regulations. He described it as a shared services approach. Messmer said one town leads the rest to pool resources.
Delta Engineering was invited to the council of governments meeting in January. Since then, Hector is the only town that has asked for more information from the company, at a Feb. 16 meeting. Messmer said Delta wants to involve all the towns in Schuyler County. Messmer said having uniform road regulations is best, not only for the towns, but for the gas companies as well.
Delta Engineering would assess the current state of each town-maintained road, or a sampling of the whole system at the option of the town, using well recognized road testing standards developed by Cornell. These test results would allow Hector to put together a road use agreement with each drilling company, holding the company financially responsible for returning the roads to their original condition once the drilling activity has been completed.
Hector has slightly less than 150 miles of roads maintained by the town, more than any other town in the Southern Tier. These roads will be used as designated routes by the gas drilling companies to reach their drilling sites and will be affected by the increased truck traffic and the greatly increased loadweight per trip in this specialized industrial activity.

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