Thousands of miles of freight railroad lines snake throughout the state of New Jersey, and travel across hundreds of bridges. These freight trains carry massive quantities of oil and toxic chemicals via nearly 20 freight railroads which pass over aging bridges, many over 100 years old, that could endanger vulnerable environmental areas across the state. To date, rail companies have failed to release railroad safety and inspection reports. Despite requirements that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) must monitor the safety of the railroad lines, in 2015, only about 800 bridges out of up to 100,000 received inspections.
Railroad safety transparency is necessary to prevent serious environmental disasters like the 2012 Paulsboro, New Jersey toxic train derailment that was caused by a bridge collapse, prompted the evacuation of over 700 citizens, and sickened more than 100 individuals. This lack of transparency regarding the integrity of the state’s bridges puts the public safety of communities and their residents in jeopardy. Although legislative measures have been brought to the attention of lawmakers, none of them have been enacted into law.