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Impacts of Energy Development on Texas Roads
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The production and exploration of oil and gas in Texas has been ongoing for many years. Recently, Texas has seen a tremendous increase in the exploration and production of energy resources. The number of completed oil and gas wells has almost tripled since 2011. The increase in energy-related activity has greatly benefited the state economy, however, the production of oil and gas generates large numbers of heavy trucks traveling on roads which were not originally designed to handle high-intensity truck traffic. Over time, the large volumes of heavy truck traffic have damaged the roads and significantly reduced their service life. The problem is particularly acute in the counties that have experienced the oil and gas drilling boom. These counties have experienced a more than ten percentage point drop in their percentage of lane miles in "Good" or better condition in just one year. Due to the lack of adequate funding, it is a challenge to maintain existing infrastructure and ensure the transportation system can serve the energy sector in the future. This paper illustrates the impacts of the energy development activities on the state maintained roads, and compares the differences between proactive and reactive maintenance approaches using a case study on a typical Farm-to-Market road. In addition, some of the mitigation strategies implemented in Texas were documented in this paper. The analysis methodology, findings, and strategies documented in this paper can be used by other transportation agencies to mitigate damages caused by the energy sector.