WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown has sent letters to the CEOs of three major Class 1 railroads asking them to improve upkeep of aging bridges across Ohio.
"Your company is responsible for this infrastructure, and your company has a duty to proactively invest a fair share of revenues into properly maintaining tracks and bridges within the local communities that host your trains,” Brown (D) says in the letters. "Structural integrity is vital – but is not sufficient.”
Brown requested the rail leaders take several steps to improve bridge upkeep: send him a list of all Ohio rail bridges owned or maintained by the companies; send him a list of each company’s assessment of each bridge’s condition; send him a list of every rail bridge in Ohio that has a problem that local leaders have asked to be addressed; and create a “specifically-tailored” action plan for any bridge that is structurally unsound or may cause harm to the public.
In the letters, Brown describes reported instances of “falling concrete and other hazards” in Geneva, Cleveland, Elyria, and Amherst.
The letters come as Brown, along with a bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers, push for Congress to pass a federal rail safety bill following February’s toxic train derailment in East Palestine.
Legislation introduced by Brown and Ohio Sen. JD Vance (R) was recently passed by a Senate committee and will likely be voted on by the full Senate in the near future.
In the U.S. House, Ohio Representatives Bill Johnson (R) and Emilia Sykes (D) have introduced a similar rail safety bill, but it has not yet received a hearing. Sykes sent a letter this week to the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee requesting a hearing as soon as possible.