PAULINE'S PICKS: Newspaper's Database Examines Safety of Hudson Valley Bridges

By: Pauline Millard It's often said that ignorance is bliss, but when it comes to the safety of our bridges, the public has a right to know how the infrastructure is holding up.

Last week's bridge collapse in Minneapolis brought to light an issue that not too many people, besides civil engineers, tend to think about -- bridge safety.

The Times-Herald Record in Middletown, N.Y. recently put together a searchable database of more than 5,000 bridges that are located in the Hudson Valley Region. It went live yesterday and was put together by a five-person team, based on information gathered from the National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting.

Visitors can search for bridges a variety of ways and learn of that bridge's inspection records. Other features include a look at the area's worst bridges, a discussion with a bridge expert and current updates on New York State?s emergency inspections.

For instance, residents in Nyack, N.Y. might want to know that at the bridge at the junction of Route 187 and the Hudson River, the bank is beginning to slump. River control devices and embankment protection have widespread minor damage. There is also minor stream bed movement evident.

The list of bridges goes on and on, but Yoni Greenbaum, Internet Content Producer for Ottaway, says they weren't trying to cause a scare.

Instead, he wrote in an e-mail that he felt it was important to arm readers with the information they would need to make their own decisions about which routes to take.

"Now motorists can choose, based on real reporting, to not drive a certain route if they want," he wrote. "And, perhaps even more importantly, they can use this data to urge their elected officials to do something about the condition of local bridges."

What kinds of interactive databases has your paper put together? I'd love to see them.

Here are some of my past Picks:

Alex Beam Acts Out Hate Mail on Podcast Catches a Candid Campaign Moment

Cape Cast Keeps Cape Codders Informed

The 'St. Louis Post-Dispatch' Tells the City's Story of Blues


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