Kingfisher sheriff acts on oil well trucks ripping up roads

KINGFISHER COUNTY, Okla. - Big trucks and heavy equipment are destroying roads in Kingfisher County, and putting drivers at risk. Now the sheriff's office is taking action.

The county has seen a major influx in oil well activity over the past several months.

That amounts to about 200 to 300 trucks on each site, according to the county engineer, Heath Dobrovolny, and the roads can't take the pressure.

"For a single mile of roadway to take that much truck traffic, it's going to have an impact," Dobrovolny said.

What's worse, many of the drivers are ignoring weight limits.

"A semi hauling drill pipe came down here," said Dobrovolny in front of a crushed bridge, "obviously saw it had to have been a seven-ton bridge, the sign was posted next to the bridge. Ended up dragging the trailer off the side of the bridge, collapsing three stringers, and ripping the deck off."

Now the county's roads and bridges are deteriorating or destroyed, and the county is barely able to keep up with or afford patches.

"Everyone's aware that the state's in a financial crisis," he said.

But that's not the only problem.

According to Sheriff Dennis Banther, the OHP found the number of crashes in the first few months of 2017 increased by 238-percent since last year.

Now the sheriff will commit a deputy to police the commercial vehicles full-time. The deputy will monitor things like speed, driver permits, and weights and measures to get the growing traffic problem under control.

Banther said this is a long-term position and will consider adding others in the future.

However, he insists it's not just about writing tickets. Banther said his department will help oil companies and drivers find the best and safest routes for their vehicles.