Survey of old train bridges is pretty scary

rr bridge

A survey of 250 oil train bridges across America found that almost half showed signs of considerable deterioration, including missing or crumbling concrete, partially washed-away footings, rotted pilings and badly corroded steel beams…

Determining whether the problems found by three environmental groups pose a threat to public safety is almost impossible, however, because the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rarely inspects the nation’s estimated 100,000 rail bridges, including some built more than 100 years ago. Instead the agency leaves that responsibility to the railroads, which don’t make their inspection records public…

No bridge collapse appears to have been involved in any of the 10 fiery oil train derailments that have occurred in North America in the past 29 months.

Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the Association of American Railroads, noted that the environmental groups’ report involves “observations by noncertified bridge inspectors,” adding that the industry “follows an aggressive 24/7 safety-first process should a bridge inspector or train crew raise a concern about a particular bridge…blah, blah, blah…

But there is no public documentation of this process, so the railroads aren’t accountable to state and local officials. The FRA says Congress hasn’t given it the authorization or resources to independently inspect rail bridges or to force the railroads to be more transparent…

The FRA receives complaints about the condition of railroad bridges almost daily, said an FRA official speaking on condition of anonymity in order to comment freely, and in most cases the problems turn out to be cosmetic rather than structural. However, the official said there’s no formal procedure for adjudicating public concerns about rail bridges and no central record kept of complaints.

Even a conservative like Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust – but verify”…America’s railroad industry hasn’t the slightest apparent inclination to invest time in transparency. We’re simply supposed to trust them – until we have a major disaster.

Meanwhile, the folks we’ve elected to Congress are following what has become standard procedure – at least for Republicans. Talk a lot, complain a lot – and do nothing.

One thought on “Survey of old train bridges is pretty scary

  1. UDE says:

    Arizona train derailment and fire described as ‘a scene from hell’ https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/29/us/tempe-arizona-train-derailment/index.html
    No injuries were reported when a Union Pacific train derailed and caught fire on a bridge over Tempe Town Lake in Arizona, officials said Wednesday.
    Plumes of smoke could be seen rising into the morning sky beneath a trail of flames on video and images from the site of the derailment, where part of the bridge collapsed.
    The train was hauling unknown hazardous material, according to the Tempe Fire Department.

    One section of the Salt River Union Pacific Bridge — which was built in 1912 — had completely collapsed just on the side of the lake, with some of the train cars detached and on the ground.

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