Bethany road concerns voiced

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Commission was asked Tuesday to help Bethany officials in correcting the deterioration of the town’s Main Street.

Bethany Mayor Jay Eisenhauer told the commission he and other town officials believe several sinkholes along the street are linked to a sewer line break beneath the road.

But he added, “We believe the problem is being compounded by the heavy traffic on the road right now.”

Eisenhauer asked whether there is a weight limit for the street, which is part of state Route 67, and whether it’s being enforced in light of the high number of heavy trucks traveling to and from natural gas well sites near the town.

Noting areas of the road were built over former trolley tracks, he asked, “Can it withstand that kind of pressure?” He also asked if the gas companies must put up bonds holding them responsible for the repair of damaged roads.

Eisenhauer said he and other Bethany officials don’t believe the gas companies are solely to blame for the roads’ deterioration.

“I think it’s a combination of things that have gone wrong here,” he said.

Brooke County Sheriff Chuck Jackson said he was concerned about the impact on a couple of land bridges and learned the companies do put up bonds.

He said one problem is that many back roads that have been paved for the gas well traffic don’t have a solid base to support them against heavy loads.

Eisenhauer said though the street is part of a state road, Bethany Council has put town crews to work patching the holes.

He invited the commissioners to join him and other Bethany officials at a meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday with officials from Chesapeake Energy and the state Division of Highways and state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg.

In related business, Eisenhauer asked the commission about the status of the natural gas task force formed two years ago by Bob Fowler, the county’s director of emergency management. He said the group could address such issues, but he hasn’t heard of them meeting recently.

Eisenhauer said natural gas drilling near the town has been positive in some ways.

“A lot of it is good. Our general store is booming, selling a lot of sandwiches and pop,” he said.

In other business, Del. Phil Diserio, D-Brooke, presented confirmation of a $5,000 grant for tie-ins of water lines in Wellsburg, Beech Bottom and the Hammond Public Service District.

The commission also received a letter announcing the awarding of $10,000 from the West Virginia Development Office for the estimated $150,000 project.

Plans call for links to be established between water systems serving the three areas so boil orders wouldn’t be needed when line breaks occur.

The links also would maintain fire protection when water systems are disrupted by power outages or floods, said Bob Sadler, who is superintendent of the Hammond PSD and a Beech Bottom councilman.

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