Price to Pay for Progress in Brazos County

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BRAZOS COUNTY- Take a look across a pasture in northern Brazos County and you are guaranteed to see oil production in action. While the county is profiting from the oil and gas boom, there is a price to pay for progress. County roads leading to oil and gas drilling rigs are slowly being destroyed by oversized trucks that haul materials to and from the site.

According to the Brazos County Commissioners Court, having one oil rig truck on the road is the equivalent weight to having six hundred cars on the road; that's a lot of pressure to bear.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword that we have," said Brazos County Precinct 3 Commissioner Kenny Mallard.

He said the there is a possibility that taxes could be raised to repave dozens of damaged roads. It's expected to cost several million dollars.

"We don't want to hit everybody with a lot of increased taxes to fix the roads all at one time, yet we've got to do something to try to maintain those roads," said the Commissioner.

Mallard said the state is considering allocating money from the Rainy Day Fund to go to counties to help pay for road improvements. If that were to happen, the county would receive about half a million dollars for the repairs.

"We appreciate them doing that, but it's kind of a small amount to take care of what we really need," he said.

County Engineer Alan Munger said there are eight different companies actively performing energy exploration and production in the county.

"Oil activity in Brazos County started in the far northeast," Munger said.

The county is in negotiations with the companies for repayment on the roads that have been damaged.

"It's in their best interest to keep the roads passable because they need it for all of their activity," Munger said.

Even though the county will have to pay to fix the roads, it doesn't compare to the positive effects the oil and gas boom is having on the area economy.