$60M Spent In Road Repairs

Wheeling Intelligencer
23 October 2011
By Casey Junkins, Staff Writer

WHEELING - Chesapeake Energy is spending $60 million to $70 million to resurface 83 miles of roads in West Virginia's Northern Panhandle, much to the delight of Lloyd Adams.

"Chesapeake stepped up big time. They are spending millions to pave roads," said Adams, maintenance engineer for the West Virginia Division of Highways District 6.

Chesapeake has either completed or is in the process of finishing repairs on the following roads, several of which were not scheduled for resurfacing by the highway department anytime soon:

Some of these roads also see considerable traffic from coal trucks.

Bob Whipp, a retired West Virginia DOH supervisor and district engineer, now serves as Chesapeake's director of corporate development for transportation and infrastructure.

He said almost all of these repairs are complete, with a few still in progress.

"Macedonia Road will be partially completed this year; Route 89 will have base failure repairs this year; Fork Ridge will only have repairs; Stone Church Road was patched and some sections received overlay; Oklahoma Road was maintained as stone; ... and Apple Pie Ridge is being maintained," he said.

With the ongoing repairs, Whipp said detours and delays are an issue with some motorists.

"We do appreciate their patience because, by doing these upgrades and repairs now, we expect to have less damage and fewer repairs in the future. And in many cases, the roads will be in better condition than when we arrived," he said.

Whipp said Chesapeake plans to keep contractors in place to perform repairs and maintenance throughout the winter months.

"The biggest challenge we encountered was the availability of contractors," Whipp said. "Because we brought on an engineering consulting firm later in the winter (of last year), we weren't able to get the roads evaluated and repairs designed and out to contract before many of the contractors had filled their schedules. This led to some delays and the inability to complete some of the planned work this year."

Chesapeake takes a "proactive" approach to keeping the roads it uses in safe working condition, Whipp noted.

"Also, because we do have an engineering consulting firm that reviews all of the roads we use throughout the Northern Panhandle, we are able to dedicate contractors to year-round maintenance," he said.

Whipp also said Chesapeake is negotiating with other companies, though he did not name which ones, to help share the cost of paving the roads they use in tandem.

Adams said Consol and its subsidiary, CNX Gas Corp., are spending about $3 million each to repair roads on which the companies operate natural gas and coal extraction facilities, such as the Shoemaker and McElroy mines.