GATESVILLE — County officials and private landowners are raising concerns about the impact of the BridgeTex Pipeline — a 20-inch-diameter, 400-mile-long crude-oil pipeline from Colorado City to Houston — that will cut across Coryell and Bell counties.
Construction of the pipeline, a joint venture of Magellan Midstream Partners and Occidental Petroleum Corporation, is set to start this fall with oil flowing through the pipe by next year at 278,000 barrels per day.
About 37 miles of pipeline will cross Coryell County, one of 20 Texas counties along the route, according to Magellan spokesman Bruce Heine.
The below-ground pipeline will cross under 15 Coryell County roads as well as State Highways 36, 236 and 1996, Farm-to-Market 215 and U.S. Highway 84
The pipeline will cross under the Leon River and Coryell Creek.
Although the pipeline will go under roadways, Commissioner Don Jones questioned whether the county would be compensated for road damage resulting from heavy construction traffic.
County Judge John Firth said the county may apply for some of the $225 million in state funds set aside to fix county roads damaged by oil and gas activities.
“We can’t stop this from happening; the state has already approved it,” Firth said. “We just need to protect ourselves.”
Landowners unhappy with the pipeline crossing their property also have few options to stop the project.
As a common carrier, Magellan has the right of eminent domain and can condemn property for easements if landowners do not agree to a settlement.
Some Coryell landowners have come to terms, but others, such as Roy Hill, are still negotiating.
“I do not look forward to the construction of a pipeline on my ranch,” Hill said. “It will be very disruptive.”
Hill and his wife, Laura, own Creekside Ranch, nearly 500 acres of farm and ranch land in the path of a 6,500-foot stretch of the pipeline.
The Hills are still negotiating the terms of a 50-foot operational easement, a 45-foot temporary easement and additional 10-foot easements on either side of Coryell Creek where the company will drill under the creek bed.
Hill also is negotiating terms for construction damage — trees cut down, roads torn up — as well as “damage to the remainder” of his property’s resale value resulting from the presence of a 20-inch crude oil pipeline.
If a landowner does not settle and the pipeline company goes to court to condemn the property, the judge can appoint a commission of three landowners to resolve the property valuation in a hearing.
The company can start construction before the hearing is complete, Hill said, because the commissioners are only deciding the value of the easement.
“It is not a question of whether (the company) can lay the pipeline,” he said, “just a question of how much they will have to pay.”