Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Problems. Topic 45-10. The Impacts of Energy Developments on U.S. Roads and Bridges

The energy sector (e.g., oil, natural gas, mining, wind, biofuels, and solar) has been a major contributor to many U.S. state economies such as Texas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa, in many instances tempering the effects of the recent U.S. economic recession. The road and bridge infrastructure of these states has played a critical role in supporting and developing the energy reserves. At the same time, the energy sector is placing significant financial and operational demands on state and local transportation systems. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year on road repairs necessitated by energy development. For example, the oil and gas industry requires the movement of aggregate, equipment, and water to drilling sites, and flowback fluids from the well sites. Rural roads and bridges that were designed to provide land access with little thought given to high traffic or heavy loadings are now subjected to loads and traffic beyond their design limits due to energy development. Transportation agencies are challenged to address the increased damages resulting from energy-related traffic. Measures that have been taken to address this challenge include requiring surety instruments, permits, and excess maintenance agreements from energy companies. The objective of this synthesis is to document the impacts of the energy sector on roads and bridges and state-of-the-practice strategies to minimize and mitigate those impacts. The report will help transportation managers and agencies understand and communicate energy development impacts on roads and bridges and choose strategies for managing them. Information gathered will include, but is not limited to, documentation of the following: (1) Areas of the country where road infrastructure damage from energy development is an issue for state or local transportation agencies. Identify the types of development associated with the infrastructure damage; (2) Engineering methods used by agencies to assess and address heavy loads and high traffic volume created by energy development; (3) Tools being used by agencies to assess costs and pay for damages to roads related to energy development. Tools include taxes, fees, and reimbursement mechanisms; (4) How agencies are addressing the safety implications of increased vehicle volumes related to energy development. Examples include speed, dust, geometry, conflict with local traffic, intersections, and roadway width (5) Examples of agency and industry collaboration to address roadway issues; and (6) Knowledge gaps and future research to address those gaps. Information will be gathered by literature review, survey of state departments of transportation (DOTs), selected local transportation agencies, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and follow up interviews with selected agencies. The survey of state DOTs will be a screening survey to identify appropriate state and local agency contacts for a more detailed survey. The report will include case examples illustrating effective practices, including those listed above. The consultant will provide a methodology for state and local agency outreach and follow-up.


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  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $40000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 20-05, Topic

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Performing Organizations:

    Myers McCarthy Consulting Engineers, LLC

  • Start Date: 20131030
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37747

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01545070
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 20-05, Topic
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Nov 25 2014 1:01AM