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Truck wheels on an unpaved road: more Texas roads go to gravel

A few years ago, the folk singer Lucinda Williams titled an album "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road." The gravel road was meant to evoke rural ambience - the freedom associated with driving in open spaces.

But from the perspective of 2013, the phrase has a new resonance. This is because the toll of heavy oil-and-gas truck traffic on road pavement and persistent funding shortfalls will soon lead to a significant increase in the number of miles of unpaved roads in Texas.

It is too soon to say what affect this will have on car accidents and truck accidents in Texas. But it is worth noting that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is already moving to reduce speed limits on the roads that will be converted to gravel.

So far, there are six Texas counties impacted by the conversion plan. Though the San Antonio area is not directly affected, it is worth noting what is happening elsewhere in the state.

TxDOT is proposing that more than 80 miles of roads that are currently paved with asphalt be converted to gravel. The speed limits will also be reduced in the affected areas, to as low as 30 miles per hour.

This is not the only step TxDOT is proposing, either. The agency also plans to put in place tighter weight limits for trucks on more than 500 miles of road in parts of Texas where oil drilling is booming. In some cases, energy companies will have to find alternative ways to reach their drilling sites.

Many miles of rural roads in Texas have been crumbling under the weight of heavy trucks involved in the oil-and-gas industry. The poor condition this has left many roads in has contributed to motor vehicle accidents.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "TxDOT Plans to Convert Some Roads to Gravel," Aman Catheja, July 25, 2013

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