Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives

Multi-Municipal Task Force: Seeks road use public input

By Dan Hust
HORTONVILLE — July 27, 2010 — While debate over gas drilling has raged throughout the area, a group of local township officials has been quietly working on a road use agreement that drillers may one day be required to sign.
The Multi-Municipal Task Force (MMTF) has been meeting monthly for more than a year to craft an agreement that will hold up to legal, industrial and public scrutiny. Its members include officials from the towns of Rockland, Callicoon, Delaware, Cochecton, Bethel, Tusten, Highland and Lumberland.
On Thursday inside the Delaware Town Hall in Hortonville, the group gathered for a public hearing on the draft scoping document that will eventually lead to a law adopted by the townships to require the agreement.
Toward that goal, attorney Todd Mathes of the Albany-based Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna law firm and engineer Steven Messmer of the Delta engineering firm in Delhi have worked with the group to create a “fishnet.”
“The idea of a fishnet is to let the little fish through while catching the big fish,” Messmer related at Thursday’s meeting.
Those “little fish” include milk tankers, service trucks and school buses, often lighter in weight than the equipment- and water-laden trucks drillers plan to use.
With road damage a certainty and towns allowed to regulate road use, a road preservation local law will give area municipalities a way to ensure that damage is anticipated, assessed and repaired – all at the expense of the gas industry rather than taxpayers.
The trick will be to regulate the industry without discriminating against it – meaning that other weighty vehicles not associated with drilling may also be required to get a permit and sign agreements with the towns.
Using algorithms developed by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) plus studies of local roadways, Messmer is working on formulas that will fairly assess the damage heavy trucks cause on town roads.
Drillers (not the haulers themselves) will be required to enter into a contractual agreement with the involved townships, said Mathes, which will include posting a security bond/letter of credit.
Part of the to-be-proposed road preservation law will also allow towns to set “haul routes,” whereby drillers will have to take a defined path to get to their worksites.
In fact, so long as towns have legally defensible reasons and an alternative route is available, certain roads can be posted off-limits to such heavy trucks, said Messmer.
Those that are chosen for use will be closely studied right before and right after the permitted period of truck traffic activity, down to scanning the roughness of the roads with a laser, said Messmer.
Setting up haul routes, however, will most likely require cooperation from the state and the county, as the townships only have authority over their own roads.
The state Department of Transportation could not be reached for comment, but Sullivan County Public Works Commissioner Bob Meyer said the county will work closely with the towns.
He does not, however, see a need for the county to adopt a similar road preservation law.
“Our roads by their nature are generally constructed to carry heavier traffic and more traffic than the towns’,” Meyer explained.
Plus, the county already has a permitting system in place for heavy truck traffic.
In the meantime, the MMTF is creating a scoping document required as part of the environmental review process.
The public is invited to weigh in on the draft scoping document, which will assess noise, community character, land, air quality and traffic impacts and mitigations.
Though no one chose to speak at Thursday’s public hearing, the written comment period remains open until this Friday, July 30, with comments being accepted by Town of Callicoon Highway Supt. Kris Scullion at 19 Legion Street, POB 687, Jeffersonville, NY 12748 or
To gain a copy of the draft scoping document detailing what the MMTF plans to include in it, contact Scullion above or at 482-5505, or call or stop by any of the involved townships’ town halls.
A copy of the document is also posted with this story and can be accessed by clicking here.

top of page  |  home  |  archives