Highway Administration to monitor bridges more closely

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) launched new standards for bridge inspections Monday, which Secretary Ray LaHood said would increase safety for American motorists.

Inspections will follow a specific 23-point list — instead of the narrative system the agency used previously — that would have to be approved before a bridge is OK'd.

"These areas include elements like bridge load limits, degree of foundation scouring and state inspection frequency," LaHood wrote Monday of the program on the Department of Transportation's "Fast Lane" blog. 

"This approach allows greater consistency in FHWA state assessments, making it easier to identify potential safety challenges and evaluate state bridge safety compliance."

FHWA will also increase its review of bridge data for errors and hold more workshops with state transportation officials to improve their inspection processes.