2008-08-01 / Community

Weiner: Federal Money For Monitoring Bridges

New York City could receive federal funding for a major boost in bridge safety technology - including approximately $1 million for a wireless bridge safety sensor pilot program - Representative Anthony D. Weiner has announced.

The House passed legislation on Wednesday to help cities and states implement bridge monitoring programs, including a provision to provide federal transportation grants for wireless bridge safety sensor pilots. The fiber optic sensors are installed on bridge spans and communicate wirelessly to a computer to provide engineers with a real-time picture of a bridge's health and safety. Weiner introduced a bill to boost wireless sensors after the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed into the Mississippi River, killing 13 people. Specifically, New York State could apply to be part of a $5 million national pilot program to try out wireless sensors to monitor bridges.

The federal Department of Transport ation would pay 80 percent of the cost of the sensor pilot programs. The federal Department of Transportation will select 5 states, each receiving approximately $1 million to implement the systems.

The preventative technology would help monitor bridges throughout the day - and for a minimal cost. The cost of installing sensors on a larger span such as the Brooklyn Bridge is an estimated $250,000 to $500,000.

Weiner said, "While our bridges are safe, we have to be vigilant and proactive in keeping them that way. This low cost and effective technology will allow us to predict problems and have virtual inspectors on our bridges 24-7, it's simply a no-brainer."

The sensor pilot program is included in the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act (H.R. 3999), which passed the House of Representatives today and authorizes $1 billion in FY 2009 to reconstruct some of the 6,175 structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System. In addition to new construction, the legislation will strengthen bridge inspection requirements and standards, as well as increase training requirements for bridge inspectors.

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