From roads to rails to runways, the Department of Transportation is laser-focused on one priority: safety. And that focus is paying dividends. One area where we're pleased to report progress is the safety of America's bridges.
For 30 years, Federal Highway Administration oversight of the Highway Bridge Program and the National Bridge Inspection Program has ensured that safety comes first. And today we are launching a new bridge safety initiative to make that oversight even stronger.
The new approach allows FHWA to more clearly and easily identify bridge issues in each state. Previously, FHWA prepared a written assessment of a particular state’s bridge inspections based on the general review of key inspection areas.
Our new initiative replaces this narrative with a grid displaying the inspection data for 23 specific key areas. These areas include elements like bridge load limits, degree of foundation scouring, and state inspection frequency. This approach allows greater consistency in FHWA state assessments, making it easier to identify potential safety challenges and evaluate state bridge safety compliance.
As Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said, “We take our stewardship role very seriously. And as part of our ongoing commitment to the bridge program, we have adopted these measures to ensure the continued safety of our nation’s bridges.”
But, while FHWA takes data reporting and recording very seriously, the real bridge safety work takes place in the field--by the thousands of well-trained, dedicated state, local and federal bridge inspectors, and by the construction crews who keep America's bridges in a state of good repair.
That’s why President Obama’s budget for 2012 proposes $70.5 billion for roads and bridges, including $320 million of the proposed National Highway Program for bridge inspections. And with the President's six-year transportation proposal, we will be well on our way to slashing the backlog of bridge rehabilitation projects by 50 percent.
In a year of tough budget decisions, we at DOT are proud to say we're not cutting any corners on the safety of America's travelers.