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Railroads, FRA develop 'essential elements' of bridge maintenance


Railroads and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently reached their first-ever standard railroad bridge inspection and maintenance agreement.

Entitled the Essential Elements of a Railroad Bridge Management Program, the agreement was developed and approved by the FRA Railroad Safety Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from the FRA, rail management, rail labor and other industry stakeholders.

The nine "essential elements," which apply to large and small railroads, call for maintaining a detailed bridge inventory; implementing procedures for bridge design and safety ratings; ensuring bridge inspectors are properly qualified; establishing procedures for performing bridge inspections; and developing a plan to protect train operations after a critical bridge problem is discovered.

The FRA plans to formally incorporate the essential elements into an existing bridge safety policy by year's end. The new policy will become an integral part of a railroad's bridge management evaluation, the FRA said.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association also is creating a model rail bridge management program based on the essential elements and FRA bridge safety policy.

"Having a common set of baseline inspection and maintenance practices against which all railroads are measured will help ensure the structural integrity and safety of the nation's rail bridges for years to come," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Boardman in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/25/2008