State To Evaluate Tunnel And Bridge Inspection Practices

ANNAPOLIS (Sept. 5, 2008)—Governor Martin O’Malley on Friday announced that he has directed Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari to establish a peer review group to examine the Maryland Transportation Authority’s bridge and tunnel inspection program. The group also will identify and evaluate “best practices” used in bridge and tunnel inspection programs from around the nation.

“Our goal is nothing less than to be a national leader in the maintenance and inspection of our bridges and tunnels,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are going to reach out to the best minds in the transportation industry to review our program and identify areas where we can improve. Our inspection and safety initiatives must continue to evolve to protect both the public and our facilities.”

The peer review group, to be selected by Secretary Porcari, will consist of nationally recognized transportation professionals that are experts in bridge and tunnel structures. The Secretary will charge the group with conducting a comprehensive review of current Authority inspection procedures as well as reports, findings, decisions and follow up actions involving the Authority’s bridges and tunnels. The panel also will identify and evaluate state of the art inspection techniques used around the nation that may be integrated into the Authority’s inspection program. The peer review group will report directly to Secretary Porcari. Panel members will be finalized later this month with findings and final recommendations due early next year.

"The integrity of our transportation system is critically important to the daily operations of the State," said Speaker Michael E. Busch. "Each day, millions of citizens depend on the road system to get back and forth to work and school, as well as for emergency services. By bringing together national transportation experts, Governor O'Malley and Secretary Porcari are giving Marylanders even greater confidence that our bridges and tunnels are the safest possible."

The Maryland Transportation Authority currently conducts an inspection program where all of its bridge and tunnel facilities are inspected each year, exceeding the federal standard of every two years. The inspections are conducted by independent engineering firms and involve the hands on, visual inspection of an entire bridge or tunnel facility. During these inspections, the inspector is required to be within an arms length of every element being evaluated. The Authority rotates inspectors so that, year to year, a different set of eyes is inspecting any particular element.

“The Authority’s current inspection program meets or significantly exceeds industry standards,” said Secretary Porcari. “However, it is important to constantly re-examine your procedures and look for better ways to operate. Our goal is to have the best inspection program in the country. With the input of independent industry experts, I am confident that we will strengthen the Authority’s program as we work toward that goal.”

Source: Governor Martin O’Malley's Office

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