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Local Government Can Now Request Railroad Bridge Safety Data

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) last month launched a new web request page for train bridge safety inquiries. Now state and local officials can request information about the safety of railroad bridges in their communities.

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Once the request has been filed with the FRA, the railroad has 30 days to provide a safety report.

According to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg, the FRA has urged railroads in the past to be more transparent and responsive to state and local leaders that are concerned about the condition of railroad bridges in their communities. She noted that providing these safety reports on local bridges is an excellent first step but more needs to be done.

The FRA also has requested more funding to double its bridge specialist staff and to create a rail bridge inventory throughout the US.

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act signed by President Obama last year mandates that railroads provide safety information about railroad bridges to state and local officials on a regular basis.

Our railroad accident attorneys in Virginia and North Carolina are familiar with how railroads will cut corners on safety to increase profit margins. Sometimes they will do this by leasing part of their railroad line to a short line railroad. This means they no longer have to spend money on maintaining that section of track. So, the railroad can save maintenance costs and blame the small railroad company for any accidents that occur.

Or, the railroad will fail to properly inspect and maintain railroad bridges to save money. That is why we support the FRA’s recent action to make it easier to obtain safety reports about railroad bridges.

There are times when railroads will neglect public and worker safety and it leads to serious accidents We once handled a case where a railroad bridge worker had his lower leg crushed by 1600 pound bridge timber. The railroad eventually accepted that it was at fault, but it would not offer a settlement higher than $400,000 during mediation. So, our Virginia railroad accident lawyers went to trial and eventually the young man won a verdict of $1.5 million.