Saturday, April 26, 2008

DCR Confused About Another Bridge

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation has a problem about the Longfellow Bridge: they don't agree with their own consultant's report about its current condition, according to a report in the Boston Globe. The DCR also wants to hold up reporting of the bridge's inspection until after repairs can be made, and a newer inspection made:
An independent inspection of the Longfellow Bridge found the span to be in worse condition than the state had previously determined, but officials dispute the findings and refused to release the report to the public for several months...

But [Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr.] said he wants Jacobs to conduct a follow-up inspection and issue a final report this summer, after the repairs are complete.

"I believe there's general agreement that, when those repairs are done and Jacobs does the reinspection, the rating will be better, and there will be an agreement at that time," said Sullivan.

Last summer, the DCR told the Boston Herald that the BU Bridge was not structurally deficient (archive fee):
“It may need work, but it can still take the statutory loads,” said Wendy Fox, spokeswoman for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, which owns the bridge connecting Boston and Cambridge. “The point is, it’s not on the list because it’s not considered to be structurally deficient.” [italics added]
despite that the bridge was listed as structurally deficient in the federal National Bridge Inventory database -- as well as the Boston Herald's compilation based on the federal database. Oh, and you can see the holes through the bridge's surface from below.

Few people would likely disagree that the DCR (and its predecessor agencies) has a poor record in maintaining their infrastructure, although some blame could easily be pointed at the State Legislature and/or Governor for failure to allocate sufficient funding. But the DCR should do a better job at recognizing and reporting the condition of the infrastructure under their control, rather than making public misstatements or engaging in peculiar reporting practices. The public statements of DCR officials about the current condition of their bridges is straining their credibility.

Longfellow Bridge image by lstrong2k through Creative Commons license.

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