Who will pay to fix our roads?

To the Editor:

At the meeting of the Frac Sand Study Committee on May 3, there seemed to be some confusion about the implications of the $0.219 per ton per mile fee recently enacted on frac sand trucks by Winona County. Several people seemed to think that fee was too high.

Let’s look at it using the information provided at the Houston County Public Hearing on March 19 by Dr. James Wilde.  According to Dr. Wilde, the cost of road repair runs from $250,000 to $600,000 per mile.

If, as Dr. Wilde indicated, the frac sand mine produces 270,000 tons of sand per year and is charged $0.219 per ton per mile, the fee will generate $59,130 per mile of road (that totals $295,650 at five years).  That same 270,000 tons of sand per year translates to 11,739 trucks per year on the roads (270,000 tons divided by 23 tons per truck = 11,739).

Since a typical road in Houston County is designed for 50,000 trucks over an intended lifetime of 20 years, Dr. Wilde stated that the road would be thus “consumed” in less than five years. If 11,739 trucks per year travel the roadway for five years (11.739 X 5 = 58,695), those trucks will exceed the design life of the road in less than five years.

Dr. Wilde’s example looks ONLY at trucks carrying frac sand. If the ONLY traffic on the road is the 11,739 frac sand trucks, the road will be consumed in less than five years. Including in the calculation the ordinary truck and car traffic carried daily on the county roads will obviously shorten the lifetime of the roads noticeably faster than his calculation.

After five years, a fee of $0.219 per ton per mile would generate $295,650 per mile for road repairs caused by the trucks from one frac sand mine.  Repairing a road costs from $250,000 to $600,000 per mile.

If, when normal vehicle traffic is included in the calculation, the cost is $600,000 per mile to repair the roads, who will pay for the additional $304,350?  Taxpayers?


Bets Reedy

Houston, Minn.