From the Fall 2007 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 9.
Comparing three states and their bridge inspection report release policies:
Virginia: Under a new policy beginning in August, the state transportation department no longer releases detailed bridge inspection reports to the public. The agency will release standardized bridge condition ratings, the date of the last inspection and the age and location of the bridge, according to agency officials.
Florida: The state transportation department will release detailed bridge inspection reports upon oral or written request, according to state officials, but the agency has reserved the right to redact any information it believes could jeopardize public safety (and, in particular, facilitate terrorism) if released.
Minnesota: The state transportation department has posted most detailed bridge inspection reports for state-reviewed bridges on its Web site, redacting only the personal information of the bridge inspectors themselves. The public can obtain the same reports without redactions by making written request to the agency, officials said. Department officials said the state will still withhold a relatively small percentage of documents related to bridges dubbed “highly critical” due to the bridge’s likely uses and vulnerabilities in the event of a terrorist attack or similar emergency. Of the bridges that are dubbed “highly critical,” only documents pertaining to access and connection characteristics of the bridges are withheld, officials said. — SA