Safe Mode: On
Does Your State Allow the Public to See Bridge Inspection Reports?

After a tugboat and its four heavy barges slammed into the Queen Isabella Causeway nearly six years ago, killing eight motorists, lawyer Michael Slack wondered if past boat accidents had weakened Texas' longest bridge. The Texas Department of Transportation said he wasn't entitled to an answer.

"There are sometimes very frustrating limits imposed on safety information, and I think it should be available," said Slack, a lawyer hired by the city of South Padre Island and local businesses after the tugboat accident cut off the island from the mainland.

Federal officials provide some facts about the reliability of bridges across the United States. The public can find out the latest inspection date of a bridge, its location, when it was built and whether it is structurally sound.

But when it comes to finding out more details about Texas' 50,000 bridges, the public can't read actual inspection documents that might shed light on dangerous structures. Over the years, state officials have turned down hundreds of requests for inspection documents on bridges, railroad crossings and highways. Officials say a federal law prohibits them from releasing those documents.

"It's a condition for federal funding," said Sharon Alexander, a lawyer for the Transportation Department who has responded to requests by the public for copies of inspection papers. The law says inspection records for transportation projects that receive federal funding cannot be used as evidence in court.

Alexander said "there's a great debate" among transportation officials across the nation about whether the law also applies to members of the public who aren't part of a lawsuit. In Texas, the Transportation Department has decided to withhold the records from everyone — and the Texas attorney general agrees.

In past open-records decisions, the attorney general's office said the intention of the federal law is to "facilitate candor" of inspectors by keeping their reports private. That rationale has frustrated people like Slack. "Those inspections are done for the public interest," Slack said. "You would expect that stuff would be more forthcoming."

SOURCE:
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA080307.6A.TexasBridges.34315f1.html


Click to view image: '78027-LL_Bridge.jpg'

Added: Aug-3-2007 
By: Facetious for Kicks
In:
News
Tags: bridge, inspection, report, public domain, why not, not just Texas
Views: 9811 | Comments: 15 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 1
You need to be registered in order to add comments! Register HERE
'
Sort by: Newest first | Oldest first | Highest score first
Liveleak opposes racial slurs - if you do spot comments that fall into this category, please report them for us to review.
  • Anyone knowing where their own state stands on the issue, please share. Same for my fellow LLs abroad, where does your country or locale stand on the availability of such information.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Experts say that the US need 1.6 TRILLION $$$ to rebuild the rotten infrastructure,but for Dumbya war is more important

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • This same topic was on every radio talk show this morning. The information I was given is that Nationally, 12 percent of bridges are categorized as "structurally deficient," meaning they are deteriorating. In Texas, 4 percent of all bridges %u2013 2,125 %u2013 are so categorized. Of those in Texas, 2 percent, or 483 bridges (17 in the Dallas area), are on major thoroughfares. For once Texas is doing a little better than the rest of the Country as a whole.

    What's so terribly sad abou More..

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • * %u2013 2,125 %u2013 * don't know what the fuk that is, but I didn't type it.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • vgroove: "* %u2013 2,125 %u2013 * don't know what the fuk that is, but I didn't type it."
    Had it said "%u2012 2,125 %u2012" I would have known exactly what you meant, but 2013? I have no clue.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • My state got a D.

    X(

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • lets all help perpetuate some fear. it will boost the economy by having us glued to the tv news as they plug expensive commercials along with their high ratings. before you know it, we all die crossing some bridge to go to the mall! I can only hope.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • shed77: "lets all help perpetuate some fear. it will boost the economy by having us glued to the tv news as they plug expensive commercials along with their high ratings. before you know it, we all die crossing some bridge to go to the mall! I can only hope."
    Irrational fear is never a good thing. I know I have my own irrational fears (flying is one). Fear stemming from a lack of (or concealment of) vital information is more rational.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Yes it does.

    http://www.srpedd.org/Ch7bridges.pdf

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Zardoz69: "
    Facetious for Kicks: "
    shed77: "lets all help perpetuate some fear. it will boost the economy by having us glued to the tv news as they plug expensive commercials along with their high ratings. before you know it, we all die crossing some bridge to go to the mall! I can only hope."
    Irrational fear is never a good thing. I know I have my own irrational fears (flying is one). Fear stemming from a lack of (or concealment of) vital information is more rational.
    "
    fear in general is irrational. after all whats the worst that can happen. Just remember to keep More..
    LOL! (and LOL at your first comment too)

    Respectfully Zardoz, I must disagree regarding ALL fear being irrational. I might grant that MOST fear is irrational. Fear is, at times, an instinct we cannot help. Having fear sometimes is inevitable.

    That said, being that I live in Texas and we cannot see bridge inspection reports, I am heading to the sporting goods store right now for a helmet. LOL!

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Hey at list our tax money is making the Iraqi bridges safe.

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • least

    Posted Aug-3-2007 By 

    (0) | Report

  • Eight: "Hey at list our tax money is making the Iraqi bridges safe."
    I had not heard of any bridge collapses in Iraq (other than ones we bomb), so perhaps you are right.

    On the flipside however, the states have a greater responsibility to identify and rectify the problems. The feds usually just answer the state's request for funds. The feds wont come inspect for problems.

    Posted Aug-4-2007 By 

    (0) | Report