Oil & Gas Report
Pleasanton’s inner city road structure is seeing what comes as a more than obvious consequence of overwhelming progress. This little city is experiencing unprecedented growth and resulting congestion. In a perfect world, one would prefer the former without the latter. Inherently, it doesn’t happen that way.
The reasons are two-fold. It’s the influx of oil-related service companies along with the 18-wheelers and various vehicles that come with these firms. Not only that, but through logistics, Pleasanton is a major route for many oil-related transport and service companies, merely traversing through the city to their destinations south and southwest of Pleasanton into the Eagle Ford Shale domain.
These 18-wheelers are traveling back and forth through the city, making it the busiest city in the entire Eagle Ford Shale.
This has the community searching for ways to move, namely the 18-wheelers, to a route outside its city limits. Such a situation would be a “win-win” for the city and truckers. As it is now, truckers proceeding through Pleasanton from U.S 281 north will have encountered nine traffic lights before leaving city limits to the west on SH 97. Trucks entering Pleasanton from IH 37 and SH 97 from the east will have traveled through eight traffic lights. A route circling Pleasanton to the south would help big trucks get through faster with less traffic light stops.
Eddie Reyes, transportation engineer with the Texas Department of Transportation in Pleasanton said, “We’re really aware of the opportunity that exists and that economic development is a good thing, but, all the while, we’re trying to keep up with the situation, making sure the roadways are safe for the public. Also, to echo that, TXDOT is looking to partner with the local government, the law enforcement agencies and also with the developing industry. The more we can partner with them, the safer the roads can be. We want to understand and anticipate the impact to the roadway system so that we can keep up with the maintenance and safety aspect. Again, we appreciate and want to partner with the oil industry and all the local governments.”
Atascosa County Precinct 4 Commissioner, Bill Carroll, said “We have a tremendous amount of traffic from the service companies and their 18-wheelers working in the oil patch. They’re carrying materials to the actual frac site locations which is creating a risky situation on SH 97. It’s come to a point where it’s a safety factor. We need to look at doing some type of bypass around the metropolitan area. There’s been so much growth on SH 97 between Pleasanton and Jourdanton, that additional traffic lights have been installed. As for a bypass, there are several different proposed routes we’re considering. Time-wise, I think it will take a minimum of two years for this roadway to become a reality.”
“There’s tremendous congestion in downtown Pleasanton between 11:30 and 1:30 during lunch time and that makes it more difficult. I’ve talked to some of the service companies about a truck route and they’ve expressed a desire to have it and that they would encourage their drivers to use it. We met with TXDOT and they said that they would provide all the signage that we need including traffic lights, if needed, where the roadway reconnects to SH 97. TXDOT will be monitoring traffic and doing a traffic count at the main intersection of US 281 and SH 97 (Dairy Queen area) shortly.”
Carroll continued, “Last Friday (April 27), about a quarter till nine, I received a phone call from County Judge Diana Bautista. She told me that she had Carl Friesenhahn, our Area Engineer from Hondo along with his boss, District Engineer Mario Medina out of San Antonio. They wanted to talk about this truck route. I took copies of the map enlargements that you (Leon Zabava) had given me and gave each one a copy. They asked questions and then we drove the route. We had a good, healthy discussion regarding a solution to the congestion that we’re experiencing in Pleasanton. The area we looked at, south of Pleasanton, could handle three lanes of traffic, not to state specifications, but could be okay for the county. That way you could have a center turn lane. It was a very positive meeting. I felt like TXDOT was very supportive and, again, they recommitted that they would help with the signage. I’m pleased with the response that we’re getting and things are progressing, really, a lot quicker than I thought they would.”
Carroll added, “While the TXDOT officials were here, we spent time looking at road problems that we have in the county. We looked at the entrance and exit at the Pleasanton H.E.B. on 281 and 97. We drove out to SH 97 out of Charlotte, looking at road conditions out there. We drove out on FM 140, also from Charlotte, to Hwy. 16. They were able to see, first hand, the lack of any shoulder on a large portion of FM 140. They expressed interest in this other part of the county, also.”
Referring back to Pleasanton’s need for a bypass, local commercial and residential builder, Gary Richter, said, “Anything that’s going to ease the 18-wheeler large truck traffic through the middle of town just makes sense for everybody. We have intersections, now, around 281 and 97 that are wreaking havoc. They’re getting backed up so far that vehicles are extending past the turning lanes and that’s becoming a mess. I’m not a retail merchant, but I know it’s got to be affecting them from the standpoint of their customers not being able to access their properties. The egress and access situation has got to be affecting business. There are certain places you just can’t get into at different times of the day. I even have problems exiting my property at my business location on 97 at times. Eighteen-wheeler traffic is a whole new issue. You understand the occasional, one time 18-wheeler, but the steady stream is the problem and it’s going to get worse. It will increase every month. The more drilling that’s done, the more truck traffic we’re going to have.”
Pleasanton Chief of Police, Gary Soward said, “Traffic has increased a large percentage over what it was this time last year. I’ve developed a traffic unit to do nothing but work traffic. I’m going to try to get another traffic unit later on this year if we can get the money to fund it. There are calls every day from people saying that we’ve got to do something about the trucks coming through town. There’s not a lot I can do. I have officers out there to work the traffic and try to slow it down. We’re trying to do the best we can. If we catch them speeding through town, they’re going to get stopped and they’ll get a citation. Accidents have increased quite a bit. In March of this year, we had 58 accidents. In the past year, or so, we averaged 25 to 30 accidents a month. Now we’re getting between 40 and over 50. It’s not going to get any better.”
“The main thing is if people would just be patient when they’re driving. When pulling off a side street, coming onto a main road, just look a little bit more. People aren’t doing that like they should. Being patient would help tremendously.”
“The city council has talked about working with the county to get a route for 18-wheelers outside the south city limits. I will do what I can to help the county or commissioners court and TXDOT. I’ll assist them in any way I can as they try to alleviate some of these traffic problems. We’re aware that there is a congestion problem in Pleasanton. It’s not like it used to be thirty years ago. When I first started work here, we had four officers. I have 21 now and I hope to get some more. Times have changed and, in my opinion, it’s for the good. Everybody is going to benefit from this in one way or another.”
Leon Zabava is the Oil & Gas reporter for the Pleasanton Express. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.