Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Safety of Our Bridges: None of Our Business, Apparently...

Under the "the less you know, the safer you surely must feel" category comes this one:

Nearly a year after the pavement gave way, sending her Volvo plunging toward the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Interstate 35W bridge collapse survivor Sara Miller is convinced full bridge inspection reports should be made public.

Bridge ratings are available from states and the federal government, but in many states, the detailed inspection reports are off-limits over terrorism concerns.

The reports "should absolutely be public," said Miller, 32, of St. Paul, who climbed out of her car and escaped serious injury.

Michael Keegan, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, says it's up to states to follow their own laws but "we definitely provide guidance to the local governments to be aware and vigilant" for people who "might be developing some type of plan to attack the bridge."

Policies vary from one state to the next, and how much information they release about bridges "is different across the board," said Kelley Rehm with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

More here.


Anonymous said...

As someone in the bridge industry -I just want to say that all the information in the National Bridge Inventory is available to the public through Federal Highways. The data is open information. Many states do not release it for security reasons, but if someone wants it, they can go through FHWA. That being said, the actual bridge photos, inspection written reports, etc are left up to each state as to what information they want to release. Many states release these more detailed reports and information on a case by case basis. The last thing we want is for all the "vulnerable" points of our bridges pointed out and illustrated with pictures! Out transportation departments are nothing but concerned about the safety of the travelers - both ensuring their safety by maintaining the bridge, or by protecting your structures from terrorism.

Charles said...

Thanks for the input....keep coming to the blog!