Weatherford Democrat

October 11, 2012

County OK's pipeline expansion

Judy Sheridan
CNHI

PARKER COUNTY — In multiple motions Tuesday, Parker County Commissioners voted 5-0 to give Texas Express Gathering, LLC and Texas Express Pipeline LLC permission to cross county right-of-way in all four precincts during the construction of new gas pipelines.

Texas Express Gathering LLC, constructing lines to collect gas from local wells, plans to bore under Greenwood Road and two places on Ellis Drive in precinct 3, in the southern portion of the county, as well as under Carter Hall Lane, Sharla Smelley Road, Old Agnes Road, West Lambert Road and Old Garner Road in precinct 2, west Parker County.

Texas Express Pipeline LLC plans to bore under Pearson Ranch Road, White Settlement Road, Aledo Iona Road, McDaniel Road and Goforth Road in precinct 4, to the east, and beneath Clover Drive, Poolville Cut Off Road, Erwin Road, Sarra Lane, Old Agnes Road, Chilcutt Road, Beene Creek Trail and in two places on Murray Drive, to the west.

Texas Express Pipeline will also lay a gas pipeline on county right-of-way on Dill Road, Old Springtown Road, Upper Denton Road and Rocky Ridge Lane in northeast Parker County.

Jeryl White, of Texas Express Pipeline, said later that his projects are related to the construction of a 20-inch diameter pipeline that will tranport gas from its source in the Texas Panhandle to a refinery in Houston. The pipeline, tentatively scheduled to begin construction in mid-November, should be finished in June. It will extend from Skellytown to Mont Belvieu, crossing Parker County.

He had no start date for local construction.

The company has already purchased most of the 50-foot easements from those in the pipeline’s path, he said, and will go to court with only three landowners, one in Parker County.

White said there will be a lot of activity during the three- or four-month construction process.

“There will be all kinds of crews here, some to clear the land, welders, trenchers, heavy equipment operators, truckers.”

There are always some safety concerns with gas lines, White admitted; hitting the pipes — which are placed three to five feet deep — is the main one.

“We have signs, we keep the land cleared,” he said.

A few sites will be permanent and above ground.

“Every so many miles, we put in a valve, so if something happens, it shuts off,” he said. “It happens automatically, but it can also be shut down manually.”

County Attorney John Forrest said the county cannot prohibit construction of the lines.

“Once they are approved by the Railroad Commission, our only authority is to make a determination of where they cross under the roads,” he said.

County Judge Mark Riley, comparing the county’s vast network of gas pipelines to a spider’s web, said the overall safety records of gas companies are good. Most lines are hit when subcontractors fail to ask where they are located, he said.

Workers are now installing about 10 pipelines in the northeast part of the county, according to Commissioner George Conley, who called their presence a “huge public safety concern.”

“It’s state-mandated that they have the authority to do it,” he said. “We could harass them and make life harder, but we’ve still got to do it.”