July 6, 2018
Press Release

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Following the unexpected collapse of a portion of a railroad bridge in downtown Syracuse yesterday, U.S. Rep John Katko (NY-24) has called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to answer several questions regarding the maintenance of the bridge and railway.

“We are extremely lucky that yesterday’s railroad bridge collapse did not injure any pedestrians or drivers traveling through this heavily trafficked section of downtown Syracuse,” said Rep. Katko. “As my office has worked over the past 24 hours with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to assist in determining the cause and damage from yesterday’s collapse, a number of questions have arisen about the overall maintenance and care of this structure, and similarly-aged bridges and railways throughout NY-24.  As such, I’ve called on the FRA to address these concerns.  There’s no question that we must invest in our region’s aging infrastructure, and yesterday’s collapse makes clear that we must do more to keep travelers and pedestrians safe.”

Rep. Katko’s office has worked as a liaison between the City of Syracuse and the FRA.  With a regional inspector onsite in Central New York today, the FRA will conduct a bridge inspection and provide a report detailing the current state of the railway track and bridge.

The text of Rep. Katko’s letter can be found below:

July 6, 2018

The Honorable Ronald Batory
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590                                              

Dear Administrator Batory,

As you are likely aware, at 1:04 p.m. on July 5th, 2018, a portion of a railroad bridge collapsed onto a busy and commercial street in my district in downtown Syracuse, NY.  Luckily, no one was injured; however, the consequences could have been disastrous. 

While your office has been extremely accommodating in sharing information and working with my office and the Office of the Mayor of the City of Syracuse, I am concerned by the lack of maintenance and inspection of this bridge.  As such, I have follow up questions as to the role the FRA plays in examining structurally deficient bridges and what can be done to prevent disasters like this from occurring in the future.  Specifically:

1.)    When was the last time the bridge along South Clinton Street at West Onondaga Street and Gifford Street in Syracuse, NY was inspected?

2.)    It is my understanding that the FRA conducts random inspections of bridges under its jurisdiction.  How are such bridges chosen for inspection?

3.)    How many inspectors does the FRA have on staff?

4.)    What action does the FRA take when an inspector finds a bridge to be structurally deficient? 

5.)    Are there any constraints facing the FRA in ensuring that the most deficient bridges are inspected?

I appreciate your cooperation and timely response.  Disasters like this are a staunch reminder that our roads and bridges need improvement.  Even during tight financial constraints, I hope we can work together to prioritize infrastructure spending and mitigate future disasters.  This is the greatest country in the world and it is time that our infrastructure reflects that.   


John Katko                                                                              
Member of Congress