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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has proposed doubling the number of its railroad bridge inspection staff as part of its fiscal-year 2017 budget, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday.The FRA will seek to increase its bridge inspectors from eight to 16, according to a press release issued by Schumer's office. Schumer has been pushing the agency to increase the number of inspectors since 2014. Currently, only about 1 percent of the 70,000 to 100,000 privately-owned rail bridges in the nation are audited in a given year, according to Schumer.In addition to increasing the staff, the FRA has proposed establishing a nationwide bridge inventory to document the age of bridges and the date of their last inspections, the senator said."The FRA's proposal to double the number of rail bridge inspectors and create a nationwide inventory where we can document high-risk bridges is a significant step in the right direction," said Schumer, adding that he would push his colleagues in Congress to approve the FRA's proposal. "It shouldn't take tragic derailment or a horrific rail-bridge collapse to get Congress to invest in more rail safety inspectors,” he said.
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