Roads must be safe for area drivers

Energy companies are supposed to be making life better for us, not making our roads dangerous and/or impassable. Local, state and, if it comes to that, federal officials should back area residents concerned about that.

Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick, frustrated that three companies did not move more swiftly on repairing roads their vehicles damaged, has made the firms something of an offer they can’t refuse. Though she did not put it in those terms, she explained her action to county commissioners this week.

Zwick has notified the companies — Columbia Gas, EQT Corp. and the Rover pipeline firm — that they need to repair four roads immediately or stop using them. The four are County Roads 27, 36, 37 and 38, known locally as Moore Ridge, Ozark Eddy Bridge, Headley and Boltsville roads.

All four are in unsafe condition, Zwick told commissioners. Vehicles could be damaged in some places on the roads. Accidents could result from cars attempting to avoid hitting rough spots.

Companies were notified of her order on Nov. 7, Zwick said. At least one, Columbia, appeared to be “trying to work with us,” she reported Monday.

But one firm, involved in constructing the big Rover pipeline, took a different tack. Zwick said she had been informed the company had filed a lawsuit over her action, in federal court.

Zwick said efforts were being made to “get things straightened out” with the Rover company.

Let us hope that happens quickly — and without the company attempting to dodge its responsibility.

Laws regarding the energy industry and public roads are very complex. Still, it is difficult to conceive of a situation in which the law, state or federal, would permit a company to damage a public road severely, then fail to repair it satisfactorily.

Good for Zwick for standing up for motorists in Monroe County. She should be supported in her insistence that the energy industry, or anyone else, for that matter, do the right thing.