Increased oil field activity = housing shortages & traffic hazards
As oil field-related jobs draw people to Reeves County, Texas, owners of one RV park receive up to 30 inquiries per day.
“It is a big problem to find housing here,” said one of the owners. “It’s either extremely expensive, or mostly it’s just not available.”
The RV park is about four miles outside the city limits of Pecos, where people also have turned to temporary living options. The oil and gas industry has brought well-paying jobs and other opportunities to Pecos, according to the mayor.
A small town, Pecos is welcoming several new businesses, including Tractor Supply Co., Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and Domino’s. But with few places for employees to live, attracting additional retailers has been difficult.
“Retail will not come without rooftops,” the mayor said. “If you don’t solve your housing issues, you have an extremely hard time really looking at the national franchises.”
For now, some people live in temporary housing, such as RVs, travel trailers, hotels and man camps.
Pecos can’t count those transient residents as a part of its overall population, which stands at nearly 9,000.
Clogged roads have become common in the Pecos area.
Many in Pecos pointed to traffic on U.S. Highway 285 as an indicator of the area’s recent growth. The highway — one of the city’s main arteries and a northern route to Carlsbad — is sometimes dubbed “dead man’s road” because of vehicle fatalities.
The two-lane highway was sufficient until oil field traffic increased in the area. The situation has created concern for those who have long traveled on the road.
Between Pecos and the state line, seven fatalities occurred on Highway 285 through the end of July. That volume of fatalities equals the total for all of 2017.
Within city limits, the Pecos Police Department does what it can to enforce commercial vehicle permits and maintain traffic safety.
The department this year received 922 traffic accident calls as of July 30. The figure represents an increase from 2014, when the department received 524 of those calls the entire year, according to data provided to the Reporter-Telegram.
Limited housing in Pecos has put a strain on the ability to draw health care and education sector workers. Some people travel on weekends to visit their families and retail leakage is 85 to 95 percent. The city leader hopes more people call Pecos their home in the future.