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Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security

Section 3 Overarching Recommendations

The seven overarching recommendations fall into three categories: institutional, fiscal, and technical. Recommendations in the first two areas are prerequisites to effective implementation of recommendations in the third area. These recommendations are as follows:

3.1 Institutional Recommendations[17]

  • Interagency Coordination. Recognizing the importance of both operational and engineered solutions and the expertise that exists within the owner/operator community, FHWA, AASHTO, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and other highway transportation stakeholders should collaborate to ensure that assessment methodologies and security solutions meet stakeholder needs.
  • Outreach and Communication Strategies. FHWA and AASHTO, in partnership with other organizations, should disseminate information (e.g., case studies, guidebooks, funding needs) about bridge and tunnel security and cost-effective countermeasures to decision-makers (federal agency leadership, e.g., DHS, U.S. Department of Transportation [USDOT], USACE), facility owners/operators, (state/local DOTs and authorities), designers (state DOTs, industry, academics), and elected officials (Congress, governors, mayors). Relationships already established through The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) should be leveraged to facilitate outreach and implementation.
  • Clarification of Legal Responsibility. FHWA should seek to clarify the legal position of state DOTs and public transportation authorities with respect to their responsibility to act on the indications of risk studies for their facilities. State DOTs should be informed of legal precedent that will guide them in evaluating risk to facilities without becoming vulnerable to victims' claims that knowledge was not translated into action soon enough.

3.2 Fiscal Recommendations

  • New Funding Sources for Bridge/Tunnel Security. Bridge and tunnel security issues should be addressed with new funding provided beyond and outside of current federal-aid highway funding sources. These funds should come from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Transportation agencies are unable to keep up with national needs with current funding as identified in FHWA's Conditions and Performance Report. Many states receive one-fourth to one-third of needed funding to preserve existing infrastructure. The trust fund must not be diverted.[18]
  • Funding Eligibility. To address the need for flexibility to fund critical structures on a programmatic basis, Title 23, Sections 144 and 133, should be amended to allow expenditures for cost-effective strategies for bridge security, as was done for seismic retrofitting. This change should allow federal funds to be expended on critical structures without regard to deficiency as currently defined.

3.3 Technical Recommendations

  • Technical Expertise. Security solutions should be "engineered," and FHWA, as the nation's primary federal agency with the necessary engineering expertise, should collaborate with the TSA in its effort to prioritize critical bridges and tunnels and to administer fund allocation to responsible agencies to meet high priority security needs. This collaborative activity should produce a consistent risk model and cost-benefit analysis approach.
  • Research, Development, and Implementation. Engineering standards do not exist regarding security concerns for bridges and tunnels. Technology (e.g., algorithms, materials, design tools, construction methods) should be developed and validated through appropriate R&D initiatives identified here to address this need. R&D efforts should lead to development of methods and standards to guide countermeasures design and implementation. Efforts should be taken to build on the knowledge base available from DOD and other agencies. The goal is to develop these tools and then adopt them into the appropriate AASHTO and other specifications.

These seven overarching recommendations form the backbone of the BRP's thinking regarding bridge and tunnel security. Although the panel believes that the fiscal and institutional recommendations offered above are essential to cost-effective bridge and tunnel security enhancement, the primary focus of this report is on the technical recommendations, reflecting both the primary objective of this effort and the collective strengths and expertise of the panelists. These technical recommendations include methods for identifying critical bridges and tunnels, operational security measures, engineering and design approaches for reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, and related research and development needs.

All of the recommendations are to FHWA and AASHTO unless otherwise noted. The panel recognizes that several recommendations require collaboration with other federal agencies, in particular the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the panel encourages DHS to consider these recommendations. Recommendations that address policy foundations and institutional continuity are presented in Section 4. Technical design, engineering, and R&D recommendations are presented in Section 5.


[17] Since September 2001, federal, state, and local surface transportation agencies and the private sector have begun rethinking roles and responsibilities for transportation security. One challenge to achieving national preparedness hinges on the federal government's ability to form effective partnerships among entities that implement security measures at the local level. Effective, well-coordinated partnerships require identifying roles and responsibilities; developing effective, collaborative relationships with local and regional transportation, emergency management, and law enforcement agencies; agreeing on performance-based standards that describe desired outcomes; testing procedures that implement roles and responsibilities; and sharing intelligence information. Testimony of G.L. Dillingham, General Accounting Office, before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, April 1, 2003.

[18] In considering the federal government's role in meeting long-term funding challenges, several issues will need to be addressed beyond determining who should pay for the security enhancements and to what extent the agency functions should be funded. An important consideration is, which criteria are most appropriate for distributing federal funds? The chief criteria considered have been ridership level, population, identified vulnerabilities, and criticality of assets. Another important consideration,as we reported in September 2002, is, which federal policy instruments - grants, loan guarantees, tax incentives, or partnerships - are most appropriate to motivate or mandate other levels of government or the private sector to help address security concerns? Finally, it will be important to consider how to allocate funds between competing needs and to measure whether we are achieving the increased security benefits envisioned. Testimony of G.L. Dillingham, General Accounting Office, before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, April 1, 2003.

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Updated: 07/31/2013
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