• Kyodo

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A government survey has found that 141 bridges and six tunnels across Japan were in need of urgent safety measures due to risks associated with age.

Safety measures such as restricting traffic or outright closure have already been taken for all of the bridges and tunnels that were given the worst grade in the examination, as they were regarded as containing potential risks of collapse or other dangers, the infrastructure ministry said Monday.

The finding is part of the second round of safety evaluations of road infrastructure undertaken in response to the collapse of an expressway tunnel in 2012 in Yamanashi Prefecture that killed nine people and injured two.

The latest survey for fiscal 2015 covered 140,814 bridges and 1,799 tunnels administered by the central and prefectural governments.

The second-worst grade, which calls for measures in a timely manner, was given to 14,489 bridges and 823 tunnels, and the third-worst assessment, requiring precautionary measures, was given to 72,733 bridges and 928 tunnels.

The rest were judged as not having a safety risk.

“While many infrastructure facilities were found requiring repair work, we need to consider whether we can raise the necessary financial resources or demolish them,” a ministry official said.

Following the 2012 collapse of the Sasago Tunnel on the Chuo Expressway, the government required safety checks on bridges and tunnels nationwide every five years.

Three vehicles were trapped after a 140-meter part of concrete ceiling collapsed and started a fire on the morning of Dec. 2, 2012.

An investigative panel under the infrastructure ministry later concluded that the expressway operator had not conducted proper inspections and maintenance.

The first round of the government-backed survey was conducted in the fiscal year that began in April 2014. Full examinations are expected to be completed in fiscal 2018, and so far safety checks were conducted on 28 percent of bridges and 29 percent of tunnels.

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