Shale Industry Brings Increasing Demands on Roads

Sat March 29, 2014 - Midwest Edition
Becky Giauque




Shale industries are a rising presence in the state. Eastern Ohio is the sweet spot, with activity expanding both north and south.

To date, 23 Ohio counties now have some level of shale development. State-wide, there are a total of 1,050 wells either permitted, being drilled, drilled, or producing energy, but data suggests that almost 2,000 wells may be in production in Ohio by the end of this year.

This industry is an economic boom for Ohio, but it also brings increased demands on roadways, as drilling sites install new pipelines and driveways and ship out super loads of their product. Addressing these issues is the job of District 11’s Anna Kuzmich.

Already a pavement engineer with the office, Kuzmich took on a new role as ODOT’s first state- wide shale coordinator in July 2012. Her job is to work with the shale industry and with ODOT to make certain shipping permits are issued consistently to com- panies throughout the state and that the transportation is being used safely and productively by everyone.

“I’m fascinated by the industry and find it to be a great challenge,” said Kuzmich. “I’m excited to learn new things and be part of this great opportunity for the state. I continue to be surprised by how willing the oil and gas companies are to cooperate with us and how safety conscious they are.”

Helping with the permit process is no small job: In 2013, districts saw a large increase in permits for gathering and transmission lines of both liquid and natural gas. Just about 50 percent of the permits issued in District 11 are now oil and gas related, with about 35 percent of those issued in nearby District 10. Districts 4 and 5 are also seeing a 10 to 15 percent increase.

This makes it extremely difficult for the district permit technicians and engineers to visit each site. Both the county and transportation managers step in and help review requests by visiting the sites. Additionally, eastern Ohio has seen an increase in superload and oversized load transports.

“We are experiencing some difficulties with the transport of these loads simply because of the geometry of our more rural road- ways,” said Kuzmich, “but we are continuing to work through them.”

Kuzmich has been with ODOT for 20 years. She graduated as a civil engineer in 1996, and received her professional engineer’s license in 2001.