The USA’s Federal Railroad Administration has launched a new online tool that allows local authorities to request the inspection reports for rail bridges in their communities.
FRA has also requested additional resources to double the number of its specialist bridge staff and create a national bridge inventory database and website.
“Communities across the country will now have access to information on the condition of railroad bridges in their area,” said US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “These inspection reports will provide greater transparency between railroads and local leaders, which is an important cornerstone in our comprehensive safety efforts.”
A state or subdivision, such as a city, county, town or municipality, can now use FRA’s website to request information from inspection reports. Once FRA receives the request, the railroad that owns the bridge will have 30 days to respond to the request. FRA plans to provide a copy of the report to the requester within 45 days of the original request.
Information in a report will include the date of the last inspection, the length and type of the bridge superstructure; the type of substructure and a general statement on the condition of the bridge.
“The Federal Railroad Administration has repeatedly urged railroads to be more responsive and more transparent with state and local leaders concerned about the condition of their local railroad bridges,” said FRA administrator Sarah Feinberg. “Providing inspection reports to local leaders is a great first step, but more can—and must—be done. We hope Congress will provide the resources to double our bridge safety staff and create a national database.”
Last September, the Feinberg had sent a letter to all railroads saying: “When a local leader or elected official asks a railroad about the safety status of a railroad bridge, they deserve a timely and transparent response. I urge you to engage more directly with local leaders and provide timely information to assure the community that the bridges in their communities are safe and structurally sound.”