The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has “taken a step in the right direction” by urging railroad companies to provide the public and Congress with timely information when concerns arise regarding the safety of railroad bridges in New York State, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), announced last week.
Schumer had been calling on railroads to share more information with local leaders and residents when the structural integrity of a bridge may be in question. While the FRA audits rail bridges for safety, the railroads are responsible for fixing their privately owned structures, Schumer noted.
The senator also has been pushing for the federal government to increase the number of federal railroad bridge safety specialists nationwide. In New York, for example, there is only one specialist assigned to audit more than 3,000 rail bridges. That specialist is also responsible for bridges in 13 other states.
“The FRA’s effort to hold railroad companies accountable for sharing information with local communities on the state of rail bridges is a laudable goal, and a welcome step in the right direction,” Schumer said in a press release. “But we still must do more. … I will continue aggressively pushing to secure additional funding to hire more train-bridge inspectors to ensure that private companies are doing their job and keeping these bridges in top-notch shape.”
FRA Acting Administrator Sara Feinberg recently sent a letter to railroads throughout the country to encourage them to be more open with local authorities when it comes to the conditions of rail bridges, many of which are more than a century old.
“More and more bridges are showing visible signs of superficial deterioration. These signs, along with increased tonnage and traffic on the country’s rail system in recent years, have led to concerns about the structural integrity of railroad bridges. I understand and share those concerns,” Feinberg said in the letter, according to Schumer’s office.