State Comptroller Audit Critical of D-O-T Railroad Bridge Inspection Program
State D-O-T records to show adequate and updated safety plans and inspections for many railroad bridges statewide, but state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says some of the safety records required by state law were late and others didn't exist.
DiNapoli says his auditors found gaps in the States railroad bridge inspection program. DiNapoli said. "DOT needs to do a better job making sure it's on the same page with the railroads and the federal government so the public can be assured it is not in danger."
State Department of Transportation officials, countered the Comptrollers statements and said all railroad bridges are safe under new, stringent regulations.
A DOT official said railroads are "ultimately responsible" to inspect their own bridges and the Federal Railroad Administration is tasked with enforcing the regulations.
The department requires railroad owners to certify to the state each year that all inspections were completed on time and that each bridge is safe.
The DOT is developing a bridge inspection database to keep better track of the private railroad bridges.
Auditors found one bridge, owned by a small scenic railroad company, had gone almost 17 years without a management plan and its load ratings hadn't been calculated. Auditors also said the state DOT didn't monitor whether inspections were done on the 48 state-owned rail bridges and eight inspections weren't done between 2010 and 2012.
The increased scrutiny follows a commuter train derailment in the Bronx that killed four people, the train in that crash was not on a bridge. The initial investigation suggests speed and operator failure lead to the wreck.