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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-71-014
Details
Synopsis: THE U.S. 35 HIGHWAY BRIDGE CONNECTING POINT PLEASANT, WEST VIRGINIA, WITH KANAUGA, OHIO, COLLAPSED AT APPROXIMATELY 5 P.M. (EST) DECEMBER 15, 1967. FORTY-SIX PERSONS DIED IN THE ACCIDENT, NINE WERE INJURED, AND 31 OF THE 37 VEHICLES ON THE BRIDGE FELL WITH THE BRIDGE. TWENTY-FOUR VEHICLES FELL INTO THE OHIO RIVER AND SEVEN FELL ON THE OHIO SHORE. THERE WERE NO PEDESTRIANS ON THE BRIDGE AT THE TIME OF COLLAPSE.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: EXPLORE THE ALTERNATIVES FOR ACTION TO ASSURE MANDATORY APPLICATION OF THE BRIDGE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS OF THE 1968 FEDERAL-AID-HIGHWAY ACT TO ALL HIGHWAY BRIDGES IN THE UNITED STATES, SINCE THE MAJORITY OF OLDER BRIDGES IN THE COUNTRY ARE NOT IN THE FEDERAL-AID-HIGHWAY SYSTEM AND THESE BRIDGES ARE MOST SUSCEPTIBLE TO EXTENSIVE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT; INCLUDING SUCH ALTERNATIVE COURSES OF ACTION AS URGING THE ADOPTION BY THE STATES OF MANDATORY STANDARDS, OR THE ENACTMENT OF FEDERAL LEGISLATION APPLICABLE TO ALL HIGHWAY BRIDGES.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Action
Mode: Highway
Location: Point Pleasant, WV, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: 80267
Accident Reports: Collapse of U.S. 35 Highway Bridge
Report #: HAR-71-01
Accident Date: 12/15/1967
Issue Date: 12/16/1970
Date Closed: 10/29/1975
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: DOT (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: DOT
To: NTSB
Date: 12/21/1971
Response: FHWA, THE NATIONAL STANDARDS UNDER THE 1968 FEDERAL-AID-HIGHWA ACT WILL ONLY APPLY TO BRIDGES ON THE SEVERAL FEDERAL-AID-HIGHWAY SYSTEMS. THE EXTENSION OF INSPECTIONS TO ALL BRIDGES WOULD REQUIRE ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION. THE EXTENSION OF PRESENT INSPECTION AUTHORITY WOULD IMPLY LEGAL AND FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT NO INCREASED AUTHORITY BE REQUESTED UNTIL IT HAS BEEN DEFINITELY DETERMINED THAT THE NATIONAL STANDARD BRIDGE INSPECTION PROCEDURES ARE NOT BEING EXTENDED TO OTHER BRIDGES ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS. 8-23-74 FHWA LETTER UPDATED STATUS OF RECOMMENDATION AS THEY SEE IT AS OF JULY 1974. PROPOSED EXTENSION OF INSPECTION STANDARDS TO ALL HIGHWAY BRIDGES WAS CONSIDERED BY CONGRESS IN PREPARING THE FEDERAL AID HIGHWAY ACT OF 1973, BUT WAS ELIMINATED FROM THE FINAL BILL. MANDATORY APPLICATION OF BRIDGE SAFETY REQUIREMENTS HAS NEVER BEEN A RECOMMENDATION OF FHWA FOR SEVERAL REASONS. FHWA HAS NO ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY, EVEN FOR BRIDGES IN THE FEDERAL AID SYSTEM. STATES, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, ARE DOING A GOOD JOB ON ALL BRIDGES IN THE STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM. THE MAJOR PROBLEM IS WITH LOCAL, COUNTY AND CITY BRIDGES WHERE THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS DON'T HAVE THE MANPOWER OR FUNDS TO CONDUCT PROPER MAINTENANCE AND INSPECTIONS FHWA MAINTAINS THAT ANY FEDERAL REQUIREMENT SHOULD GO HAND-IN-HAND WITH FEDERAL FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND THAT INITIATION OF THE MATTER SHOULD BE LEFT TO CONGRESS.