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FHWA Has Taken Actions But Could Do More to Strengthen Oversight of Bridge Safety and States' Use of Federal Bridge Funding

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On July 21, 2010, the Assistant Inspector General for Highway and Transit Audits testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit regarding Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) oversight of the Highway Bridge Program and the National Bridge Inspection Program.  OIG issued three reports over the last 4 years on FHWA's bridge oversight.  The Assistant Inspector General's statement focused on FHWA's efforts to: (1) implement a data-driven, risk-based approach to overseeing the Nation's bridges; (2) ensure that states comply with bridge inspection standards; and (3) strengthen its oversight of states' use of Federal bridge funding.  The Assistant Inspector General recognized FHWA's progress in implementing a data-driven, risk-based approach to bridge oversight and its efforts to address OIG's related recommendations from prior reports; however, more needs to be done.  Given the volume of needs of the Nation's nearly 600,000 bridges and the limited funding available to repair and replace bridges, FHWA must target its oversight efforts at higher priority bridge safety risks and strengthen its oversight of states' use of Federal bridge funding.  In particular, more needs to be done to enable FHWA to evaluate the impact of the billions in Federal bridge money that have been allocated to states in recent years for improving the condition of deficient bridges.