2010 NW PA GIS Conference, October 14th, 2010
M. Damon Weiss and Tracey Olexa
“Over the past several years, the idea of large-scale drilling of the Marcellus Shale gas fields across Pennsylvania has met with both support from those who believe that it will be a long-term boom to the state and local economy and skepticism by those who recall the devastating effects of coal mining on the environment, during the last energy rush in this state. While this debate plays out on news media and the gas drillers work things out with the Department of Environmental Protection, a less publicized but equally important negotiation is also being played out between the gas drillers and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The main issue is how to keep track of and fairly share the financial burden from gas drilling companies who could potentially cause widespread damage to Pennsylvania state roads, during the well development process. After all, the traffic volumes of heavy vehicles from these well sites is excessive and many competing oil companies use the same roads as they travel to and from shared quarries, concrete and asphalt plants, water sources, and waste disposal / treatment sites. Keeping track of such a massive amount of data, across multiple organizations, is a challenge indeed. Presenting this data so that accurate and sound decisions can be made is even more difficult.
“In order to address this issue, Pennoni Associates has been working with about a dozen Marcellus Shale gas drillers, several road construction contractors and five PennDOT District offices to collect mountains of data about anticipated drilling schedules, truck volumes and highway routing, for the purpose of generating temporal / geospatial analyses of cumulative truck traffic on state bonded roads. While we are still refining the data collection and analysis processes, we have been largely successful so far in creating a very flexible and collaborative GIS framework, which emphasizes cooperation across organizations and the idea of sharing resources to meet common goals. Although the project was orchestrated on a state-wide level, the concepts are equally applicable to local communities and there are a number of lessons that can be taken from our experiences. This presentation offers both insight about these lessons learned and an overview of the methodology and results of the ongoing project.”