State lawmakers in West Virginia plan to meet in Wheeling on Thursday to discuss the impact the oil and gas industry is having on local roadways.

Sen. Robert Beach (D-Monongalia) said the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold an interim meeting at 3 p.m. at West Virginia Northern Community College. He said committee members will listen to a presentation by the state Division of Highways (DOH) on the effects shale development is having on roads.

“This provides a rare opportunity for legislators outside of this region to see and hear about the unique road challenges and needs,” Beach, who chairs the committee, said in a statement. “The oil and gas industry, while welcome and needed in West Virginia, is placing significant hardships on local roadways.” Beach also serves on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Highway Commission.

Senate President Jeffrey Kessler (D-Marshall) concurred that the meeting with officials from the DOH, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Transportation, addresses a pressing issue.

“This will give committee members a broader perspective in the ultimate legislation they pass,” Kessler said. “Lawmakers will have the opportunity to see firsthand the effects of the Marcellus Shale boom on the area. They will see the much needed growth driven by the natural gas industry, but also the housing issues and damage to roadways.”

Last month, Vision Shared, a nonprofit organization based in Huntington, WV, said significant investment in the state’s infrastructure, including transportation, was needed to reap more of the economic benefits made possible with shale development (see Shale Daily, May 31).