Family Wants Relief From Rough Road in Ector County

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ECTOR COUNTY--NewsWest 9 talked to parties on both sides of the road issue.   The Cole family says it's the worst road in Ector County.   County officials say they're doing their best to keep it in shape.

"I'm complaining about the condition of the road" Resident Mary Cole, said.

"Just in my precinct, I have 500 miles of roads," County Commissioner Freddie Gardner, said.

The Cole's live at the end of Sheep Pasture Road, just off of Highway 181.  She say's it's in terrible shape.  She's not asking for a super highway, she just wants something she can drive on, "It's just solid rock or washboards.  If you don't have good tires, you won't make it up and down this road if you go very fast."

She says numerous requests to get some sort of re-surfacing have been unsuccessful.  Gardner says, he understands the Cole's have a problem, but fixing it, isn't that easy, "It's 40 miles, round trip, out there and back.  It's the farthest road that we have to maintain in Ector County."

The Cole's are the only family that live on Sheep Pasture Road.   When they asked, years ago, to have it paved, Gardner told them it wasn't a viable option, "At approximately $100,000 dollars a mile, to pave it for one family, for one house, it's just not feasible."

Mary Cole disagrees, "I feel like the money should be there to do something to the road, because you can see, all around, the oil production, and I know there's a lot of taxes coming in."

Cole goes on to suggest, there might be other reasons as to why their road is so bad, "The week before the elections, the road got bladed.  We donated money to the opponent, who was defeated, but since then, no one has come out to fix the road."

"Elections are every 4 years.  That has nothing to do with it," Commissioner Gardner responded.

Duke Energy took over maintenance of the road while they were constructing wind turbines in the area.   The Cole's say it hasn't been touched since.   Gardner says they haven't received a request for maintenance since then, either, "With the tremendous amount of oilfield equipment on it, it doesn't take long for the road to get that washboard effect.  But, that's the hazards of living that far out and living on a dirt road."

According to Gardner, the battle over Sheep Pasture Road has been going on since before he took office, 12 years ago.   He says it's up to the County Road and Bridge Superintendent to determine what work needs to be done and when.