Bridge and tunnels to be inspected every 5 years

TOKYO —

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has decided to obligate the operators of highways in all prefectures to carry out safety inspections of bridges and tunnels every 5 years to prevent accidents.

Attention was drawn to the aging infrastructure of Japan’s highways after the ceiling collapsed in the Sasago Tunnel two years ago, killing nine people.

The ministry said there are 700,000 bridges and 10,000 tunnels nationwide.

Saknei Shimbun quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying that the government will prepare a new safety inspection manual which includes guidelines for more stringent safety checks and a more efficient method of archiving the assessment the condition of bridges and tunnels, as well as a record of repairs. 

Japan Today

  • 3

    gogogo

    So they haven't been inspecting them at all previously? I think if you operate a bridge or a tunnel you need to be checking all the time with the number of quakes in this country!?

  • 5

    smithinjapan

    And let me guess, they're leaving it up to the companies to do so, same as they have up to now, which got all those people killed and no one punished for it. A manual is merely lip-service when not made law.

  • 0

    sillygirl

    Is that often enough with the earthquakes and now snow disasters.

  • 1

    It"S ME

    Sure they can do it more but who carries the tab? You? Or increased taxes.

    Things don't happen on goodwill or for free.

  • 4

    Xeno23

    Five years, because that gives you four years, eleven months, and two weeks to do nothing. Or maybe it just takes that long for the two guys doing the work to start at the northernmost tip of Hokkaido, and work their way down to the southernmost tip of Kyushu...

    Safety manuals are great. I knew a coworker who labored diligently away on one for two years, and when it was finished, so much of it was obsolete, it was summarily canned. He had to start a new one.

  • 2

    Jean ValJean

    With the existing astronomical toll fees there ought to be plenty of funding already for regular inspections, unless the money has been mismanaged by quasi-privatised(mostly national) "companies ".

    I cringe every time I drive through an older tunnel. The Aqualine? Not. A. Chance! I take the nice, slow ferry.

  • 2

    gaijintraveller

    More amakudari, no doubt.

  • 2

    CrazyJoe

    Many of Japan's bridges have structural defects and others are obsolete because they are too narrow, have inadequate clearances for tall vehicles, cannot carry loads demanded of them or are poorly aligned with the highways. Tunnels located near cliffs and or other potentially unstable formations should be inspected more often.

  • 1

    It"S ME

    Don't see how they are worse off than the USA infrastructure which been failing for years already and is already causing major probs. Designed on the German model but if maintenance/upkeep is not there ......

  • -2

    Disillusioned

    Ha ha bloody ha! They admitted the previous safety checks on the that tunnel that collapsed were fudged. So, they intend to inspect them every five years. Who is gonna inspect the inspectors to make sure they are actually doing it and not sitting at starBucks writing invoices?

  • 1

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    If they don't do anything, we complain for a bit but eventually our attentions are diverted. if they refer to a previous failure at a later date and say let's do something, we complain that they are admitting that hadn't been doing enough in the past. No wonder bureaucrats like to do nothing :-)

    As for the duration, I don't see much wrong in it in principle. If you actually did the inspection on a stone structure, to say it should be good for at least 5 years is entirely reasonable.

    Besides, if they said, for example, they'd be checking them every year, given the critical nature of our readers here we'd just be saying they are admitting the shoddy checks that won't hold for more than one year :-D

  • 0

    sf2k

    What was the previous inspection timeline? Five years sounds way too long. So I looked it up where I live to find a comparison and in my province of Ontario (Canada), bridges are inspected every two years! Canada isn't an earthquake country. How was the five year inspection timeline chosen? How does this make anyone feel safer? I suppose five years is better than never

    Should be electronically monitored given the number of quakes, microquakes, mudslides, typhoon water damage, even snow cracks (which expand) etc in a disaster prone country! It would be otherwise impossible to check and this statement is basically saying you're on your own.

    Given the comparison of my location to Japan, it should be yearly and in more earthquake prone areas probably even more often than that

  • 1

    Raymond Chuang

    They should have mandated this across Japan after the Hanshin Expressway viaduct collapse in Hyogo Prefecture in 1995 during the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Isn't this just way late to mandate the regular inspections now?

  • 0

    wanderlust

    Can imagine this to end up as a couple of workers driving slowly over the bridge or through the tunnel in a 'kei' truck, orange lights flashing away under large signs saying 'inspection', as they peer through the windscreen with a torch shining on the girders or tunnel ceiling...it's been inspected!

  • 0

    Dennis Bauer

    They should be checked locally after every quake and by official approved engineers

  • 0

    hereforever

    This is news? If doing your job is news, the media would never have time to eat, sleep or shower.

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