AAR slams report calling bridges unsafe

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) criticized a report released Tuesday that calls rail bridges unsafe.

The AAR said the new, negative analysis from Waterkeeper Alliance uses flawed assumptions as well as naive evaluations to make people doubt the safety of bridges used by railroads.

The Waterkeeper Alliance is an environmental group strongly against the use of fossil fuels. The alliance report said it used only anecdotal visual observations made by Waterkeeper members who were not trained professional bridge safety experts and then made conclusions and assumptions about the rail bridges based, the AAR said.

The freight rail industry makes public safety one of its most important priorities, the AAR said. 

Rail bridge inspection is a complicated task and requires specific training and years of experience, the AAR said. Rail operators inspect bridges annually with the inspections audited by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The FRA says many bridges are fully capable of handling heavy loads, no matter how they look or how old they are.

The AAR said this is why the report from Waterkeeper is so misguided and misleading, as it judges the structural integrity of a rail bridge without any experience at this job.

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