The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board says inspections are urgently needed for bridges built like the New York State Thruway span that collapsed last year, killing 10 people.
"We know there are 43,000 bridges around the country that have not been inspected even in the last two years," NTSB Chairman Jim Burnett said Tuesday. "Many of those that have been inspected during that period may not have gotten underwater inspection."We believe there are many other bridges perhaps thousands in the country that were built basically as the Schoharie Creek Bridge was."
Burnett recommended that the Federal Highway Administration require the states to inspect such bridges "as quickly as possible."
Burnett made his remarks after the board completed its yearlong investigation into the collapse of the Schoharie Creek Bridge on the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, about 40 miles northwest of Albany, N.Y.
The span fell April 5, 1987, after days of heavy rain and flooding. Four cars and one tractor-trailer truck plunged into the creek, and one body has never been recovered.
The board concluded that the probable cause of the disaster was failure by the New York State Thruway Authority to replace riprap, or large boulders, around bridge piers.