Bridge program oversight lags behind, audit reveals

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Federal Highway Administration has only implemented half of the congressionally mandated recommendations to improve oversight and safety mechanisms for the nation’s bridge programs, an audit by the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General has revealed.

The Office of Inspector General, or OIG, states in the audit released Aug. 22 that the FHWA has responded to only 12 of 24 recommendations enacted by Congress in the 2012 highway bill MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

Recommendations range from collecting bridge data from states to re-evaluating the signage that marks vertical clearance underneath bridges.

“FHWA has 12 actions in progress to address MAP-21 bridge safety and funding provisions. These actions include issuing rulemakings, submitting reports to Congress, and providing guidance to the states,” the OIG stated.

“Of the 12 actions, the most significant are related to two rulemakings regarding MAP-21’s performance and accountability requirements for (National Highway System) bridges.”

The FHWA has lagged behind in holding states accountable for sending their National Highway System bridge data to the feds, the auditors noted.

“Our analysis shows that, if the penalty were in place, 10 states and the District of Columbia may have been required to dedicate funds to improve their NHS bridges,” the audit shows.

The audit also states that the FHWA has implemented only four of 16 previous recommendations made by the Office of Inspector General in 2006.

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