Oil, gas road repairs enforced

WOODSFIELD — Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick told the board of commissioners Monday that her department notified three oil and gas companies that they need to make immediate repairs on four county roads or cease using them.

In response, one of those companies has filed a lawsuit against the county.

Zwick said she sent an email on Nov. 7 to Rover, Columbia Gas and EQT Corp. regarding county roads 27, 36, 38 and 37, otherwise known as Moore Ridge Road, Ozark Eddy Bridge Road, Headley Road and Boltsville Road.

“On County Roads 27 and 36, we started working with Rover on damages at the end of May,” Zwick said. “And we are at the point that if they don’t get repaired soon, they are not going to be able to get it repaired this year.”

Zwick said she spoke to county Prosecutor James Peters about enforcing the road use maintenance agreements in order to address “excessive damages” to the roads.

“The notice was sent out on Tuesday that they were to cease any and all activity for their particular projects on County Road 27 and County Road 36, County Road 38 and County Road 37,” Zwick said. “The only road that EQT is involved in is County Road 37, the other three are Rover and Columbia.”

Although the roads are not impassable, Zwick said the repairs must be completed before they have to be shut down to all traffic. Zwick noted that county roads 27 and 36 each serve as routes for more than 1,000 vehicles per day.

“If I have to shut those down, we will have a lot of problems.

The point they are at right now is that cars could bottom out, vehicles could swerve when trying to correct, plows trucks could easily have an accident or swerve into oncoming traffic, and cars are trying to avoid problems and going left of center, which also can cause accidents. They are already excessively hazardous but not impassable,” Zwick said.

Zwick was notified late Thursday that Rover had filed a lawsuit in federal court regarding the actions of her department.

“James Peters may be on the phone right now talking to the judge and to our attorneys in this matter, trying to get things straightened out,” Zwick said. “We have a meeting this afternoon with Columbia. They are trying to work with us and talk with us and trying to get this figured out without going the legal route.”

Zwick said she does not believe her department has done anything “out of line” or “out of order” to enforce the RUMA contracts.

“In my opinion, the only thing, maybe, that I did wrong was wait too long. I probably should have done this a long time ago,” Zwick said.

Zwick also noted that Rover has been busy making repairs on other, less damaged roads for which the company has RUMA agreements with the county.

“We have been trying to help the company to do repairs immediately so they don’t turn into a more costly project,” Zwick said. “And if they are making an effort, getting cost estimates and repairs are being scheduled, we don’t need to shut them down.”

Zwick said at this point, all three companies are complying with the cease order, as far as she knows.

“Because of the things that came about in the court and the claims that were made, at this point if they are active we will just make a note and report it. That way we have documentation,” Zwick said.