Many states hide engineering studies on dangerous roads and intersections. While the safety improvement of the roadways slows, people suffer more tragic accidents.
Many states hide engineering studies on dangerous roads and intersections. While the safety improvement of the roadways slows, people suffer more tragic accidents – and it can even happen in Texas. A Bethesda, Maryland man encountered years of red tape in his disclosure efforts when tragedy struck.
Maryland Hides Vital Information on Dangerous Intersection
According to The Center for Investigative Reporting, after years of accidents at a dangerous intersection, Richard Boltuck sought to have a traffic light installed at an intersection notorious for accidents near his home. Eight years later, he and other citizens still could not get access to relevant engineering studies.
But Boltuck’s efforts to get those studies from the state were delayed for years. He and others in his neighborhood began asking for the information in 2008, as they sought data to challenge the state’s conclusions that no left-turn light was needed. They were stymied by a little-known provision of federal law that gives states wide latitude to keep important engineering studies and other data secret from members of the public.
Often these studies and data form the basis of a ranking system that states use to determine which roads, bridges and intersections merit urgent attention and federal dollars.
Known as Section 409, a term well understood by state transportation officials across the country – but by few others – federal law 23 U.S. 409 has been interpreted by many state governments and state courts to allow their agencies to keep secret studies, surveys and other data about dangerous roads, bridges and intersections if there is even a remote possibility that someone might one day sue the government for failing to make needed redesigns or repairs.
Meanwhile, as Boltuck was doggedly pursuing this cause through the government bureaucracy, the unthinkable happened. According to the article, a family going to a school play was struck broadside by a vehicle traveling at 115 miles per hour, killing three and severely injuring the fourth member.
Boltuck stated that this kind of tragedy emphasizes why more openness is needed with engineering studies by the state. Since the accident, Maryland has passed a law that makes some information more accessible, but further progress is needed for more full disclosure.
Call for Help on Your Difficult Accident Case
We applaud the work of tireless citizens such as Richard Boltuck and others to pursue the safety needs of the community. One of the most basic functions of government is to look out for the safety and wellbeing of its citizens and they should be open and helpful with concerned citizens who seek the same.
At the Callahan Law firm, we have built our practice on doggedly seeking justice for our clients and their loved ones who have been tragically killed or injured in accidents.
Contact us for a free case evaluation.