Watchdog: 21 News demands answers on aging overpass in Newton Falls
Our reporting prompted Trumbull County engineers to have a railroad overpass in Newton Falls inspected--just weeks after residents living nearby expressed their concerns that the N. Canal Street overpass might be deficient.
Those engineers say when MS Consultants inspected the structure, they found 11 of the 15 pillars that support the bridge that had significant section loss--at which point they reached out to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio for inspection records. CSX, which owns the overpass, is responsible for maintaining the bridge.
"We were told by PUCO that reports at least for the last five years have not been submitted.", said Gary Shaffer, a deputy engineer for Trumbull County.
21 News reached out to PUCO looking for answers--the utilities commission said they weren't in charge of requiring inspections from the railroad, but that the Federal Railroad Administration is--the FRA met us with this response
"FRA does not have any rail bridge inspection reports on file. FRA can request these records at any time from the railroads--we are now in the process of obtaining the most recent inspection report given the recently voiced concerns."
The FRA also says that CSX sent a bridge inspector who said the bridge is safe for railroad traffic--a spokesperson for CSX told us that the inspection happened on April 26 of this year.
"If it has been inspected in the last few years--it hasn't been a detailed inspection at least the inspections we perform.", said Shaffer, prior to CSX disclosing the last inspection date.
Shaffer explained the importance of the pillars when it comes to supporting the bridge.
"Without that redundancy and being able to transfer that load from one column to another effectively, you really run the risk of having to reduce the load rating of this bridge, or even having a failure.", he added.
Shaffer says he wants to see a detailed analysis and load rating which they say would determine if there is any cause for concern.