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Metro safety commission demands changes to WMATA structures, procedures

Ten metro bridges might not hold up in an earthquake, the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission says.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (WMSC) outlined a number of changes on Monday that it says the Metrorail must make to keep passengers safe. These recommendations come as part of the commission’s safety audit of WMATA inspection, maintenance and repair procedures for elevated structures (such as bridges).

The WMSC is completely independent of WMATA. It’s an oversight and enforcement authority that works to ensure the safety of the WMATA system.

The Metrorail has improved its structural maintenance and inspection program, according to the WMSC report, which it says has faced significant challenges over the past decade. But the commission says there are urgent changes the Metrorail needs to make.

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According to the report, there are 10 Metrorail structures that might not hold up in an earthquake because of a structural part that is made of steel instead of a more elastic or spherical material.

Here are some other changes the WMSC says must be made to improve Metrorail safety:

— Better coordination and communication among departments

— Capacity assessments (known as load rating assessments) for bridges and elevated structures to confirm what weights the structure can handle. According to the report, the Metrorail does not have load ratings, which it says creates a risk that the structures could be overloaded.

Training materials for the recently published Structural Inspection Manual to prepare the employees charged with implementing those procedures.

Bottom line: Metrorail has 45 days to submit plans to resolve these issues.

You can read the full report here.

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