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Bridges & Structures

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Recommendations for Bridge and Tunnel Security

Overarching Recommendations

The BRP makes the following seven overarching recommendations to accomplish the overall goal of reducing the vulnerability of bridges and tunnels to terrorist attacks. These recommendations fall into three areas: institutional, fiscal, and technical. Recommendations in the fiscal and institutional areas are prerequisites to effective implementation of recommendations in the technical area. These overarching recommendations are as follows:

Institutional Recommendations

  • Interagency Coordination. Recognizing the importance of both operational and engineered solutions and the expertise that exists within the owner/operator community, it is vital that FHWA, AASHTO, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and other highway transportation stakeholders 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 about bridge and tunnel security and cost-effective countermeasures to decision-makers, facility owners/operators, designers, and elected officials.
  • Clarification of Legal Responsibility. FHWA should seek to clarify the legal position of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and public transportation authorities with respect to their responsibility to act on the indications of risk studies for their facilities.

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.
  • 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 funding for critical structures without regard to deficiency as currently defined.

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.
  • Research, Development, and Implementation. Engineering standards do not exist regarding security concerns for bridges and tunnels. Technology should be developed and validated through appropriate research and development (R&D) initiatives identified here to address this need.

These seven overarching recommendations form the backbone of the BRP's perception of bridge and tunnel security requirements. 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 that employ effective security procedures and available technology, engineering and design approaches for reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure, and research and development agenda to gain a greater understanding of structural responses to attacks and countermeasures to avoid or mitigate potential negative consequences.

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Updated: 06/25/2013
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000