Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sounds like a bad joke, but it's true. Just another day in paradise.
WHO is in charge??
Read about it in the Fort Worth Weekly.
Residents in the Oakhurst neighborhood feel like they’re living a scene out of Cool Hand Luke — “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” They say a disconnect between city officials, the Texas Department of Transportation, and Chesapeake Energy is causing the planned expansion of I-35 to encroach on their historic area just northeast of downtown.
The city approved a drilling permit at the northwest corner of I-35 and Northside Drive several years ago, and Chesapeake built its pad site in the path of the proposed expansion of that traffic-clogged highway. So TxDOT recently altered its longtanding plans, moving the project to the east (neighborhood) side of the freeway, to avoid 10 wellheads on the west side of I-35.
The reason the state agency is favoring the drillers over the neighborhood? Existence of the wells means that the cost of expanding the freeway on the west side may have vastly increased.
TxDOT project manager John Tillinghast said he didn’t know why city officials allowed Chesapeake to build wellheads in the highway’s path.
“We never were informed by the City of Fort Worth that this property owner wanted to develop the property,” he said. “We’ve never encountered this before.”
Oakhurst resident David Collyer said it’s just another example of the gas industry’s influence at city hall.
“The city is going to let Chesapeake have first rights, even if they have to run the highway closer to the neighborhood,” he said. “Chesapeake has got the city council in their back pocket.”
“That never came up,” Espino said. “It was my understanding that the highway would be widened away from the neighborhood. No one from city staff or TxDOT brought this up.”
“This is the reality of having drilling in your city and how it affects your land-use plans,” Bradbury said.