GATESVILLE — As Bell County officials learn where the BridgeTex Pipeline will cross the county, Coryell County officials are preparing to learn what economic benefit the project might bring.
The proposed route of the 20-inch, crude-oil pipeline that stretches 400 miles from the West Texas town of Colorado City to Houston will cross 20 counties including Coryell and Bell.
Construction of the underground 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 summer at 278,000 barrels per day.
“Our county engineer met with a representative from the pipeline company to determine where the route is going,” said Bell County Commissioner Bill Schumann, whose Precinct 3 is crossed by the route.
Bell County Engineer Bryan Neaves, who was briefed on the pipeline, said the proposed route will cross “a very small, short portion of Bell County north of Troy.”
Preliminary surveys show West Hillyard Road, Old Highway 81, Interstate 35 and East Hillyard Road are in the path of the Bell route, Neaves said.
The company expects to obtain right-of-way easements by November, Neaves said, with construction to begin in 2014.
“The county is certainly interested in the landowners,” Schumann said, “but we are primarily concerned with the county roads because the county has to sign off on crossing county roads.”
Coryell County Judge John Firth expects a “big economic benefit” for his county in the form of an expanded tax base from the pipeline.
How much the tax base will expand is unknown.
Mitch Fast, chief appraiser for the Coryell Central Appraisal District, said he will use a consulting firm to help determine the value of the pipeline.
Representatives from Pritchard & Abbott Inc., a professional appraisal consulting firm that specializes in oil and gas utilities, will be at the Sept. 9 commissioners’ court meeting to talk with Coryell officials about the appraisal procedure, Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers said.
As for adding jobs to the local economy, Coryell County Commissioner Justin Latham does not expect much.
“I assume they are bringing in their own contractors,” said Latham, whose Precinct 4 is intersected by the pipeline route. “I do not necessarily see it creating jobs.”
Dick Van Dyke, president of the Coryell County Economic Development Board, agreed.
“I can’t imagine any local jobs from this project,” he said.