Transparency Sites Update: Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia

Bridge safety, stimulus funds and financial information.

by / April 21, 2009

The privately owned Ambassador Bridge (pictured) connects Windsor, Ontario with Detroit, Michigan.

Missouri Financial Information

Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel announced the expansion of his open government Web site. The site offers a consolidated location for open records from Zweifel's office including records of investment results, state fund balances, the Missouri Linked Deposits Review Committee, the Missouri Investment Trust and the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program Board, which oversees the MOST 529 College Savings Plan. "Government works best when its business is conducted in an open and accountable environment," Zweifel said.

Michigan Bridge Safety

Michigan State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle today announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has updated information on the MDOT Web site about the safety of 4,397 state highway bridges. State bridge information can be downloaded by route number and/or county, and are current as of April 1, 2009. Only highway bridges greater than 20 feet in length are included; ratings for pedestrian, railroad and locally-owned bridges are not included. MDOT is making updates on the Web four times a year. "Citizens can be assured that Michigan's bridges are safe, regularly inspected and well maintained," said Steudle. "MDOT and our local agency partners are working year-round to ensure the safest possible travel experience for motorists." The types of inspection performed include bridge safety inspections, fracture critical inspections, fatigue- sensitive inspections and underwater inspections. Non-destructive evaluation and bridge monitoring is also done as needed. Techniques used include calipers to measure the thickness of steel, ultrasonic testing to check for defects in steel, sounding to detect separation of concrete, and monitoring bridge deflections and response to load. Of the 4,397 bridges on the April 1, 2009 report, 471 bridges are classified with the engineering term of "structurally deficient," meaning they may require rehabilitation or replacement at some time in the future; and 919 bridges are classified as "functionally obsolete," meaning they are outdated and may require modernization at some time in the future. The department is reporting 39 fewer structurally deficient bridges and two fewer functionally obsolete bridges in April than it did last October, the fourth time it put bridge inspection information online. Since the October 2008 report, one bridge has been returned to the county, five new bridges were added to the list, and five other bridges were removed from the list. The Mackinac, International, and Blue Water bridges are inspected annually, exceeding federal requirements. These three bridges are managed by bridge authorities, and their ratings are not included in the list MDOT has posted to the Web.

West Virginia Stimulus

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin yesterday announced the launch of a new Web page comprising West Virginia Recovery Act (stimulus) information to provide constituents with up-to-date information about the stimulus dollars that the state will be receiving. The site contains a search feature and allows individuals to view information by topic or by county. The site will be continually updated as additional stimulus information and local county information is finalized and made available.  Visitors will also be able to sign up to receive updates via e-mail, RSS feeds or Twitter. 

Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government