French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

A general view shows the flooded banks of the Seine River after days of rainy weather in Paris, France, January 8, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 19 August 2018
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French audit warns 840 bridges may face risk of collapse

  • The audit says says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs
  • About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels

PARIS: An audit commissioned by the French government says about 840 French bridges are suffering from serious damage and at risk of collapse in the coming several years.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government had already promised new infrastructure spending, but is coming under new pressure after Tuesday’s bridge collapse in neighboring Italy that killed 43 people.
The audit, published Sunday by the Journal du Dimanche newspaper, says a third of the 12,000 government-maintained bridges in France need repairs. About 7 percent, or about 840 bridges, present a “risk of collapse” in the coming years if spending is kept at current levels, the audit says.
The audit doesn’t address thousands of other French bridges maintained by private companies or local authorities, which have seen budget cuts in recent years.
The government released a summary of the audit last month, blaming previous administrations for inconsistent and inadequate road funding, and saying the growth of traffic and increasing episodes of extreme weather have worsened the problem.
The Transport Ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday. Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told broadcaster Franceinfo last week that bridge “maintenance is our priority” and announced plans for a 1 billion-euro (($1.14 billion) plan to “save the nation’s roads,” including bridges and tunnels. She reiterated plans for a new infrastructure law after the summer holidays.
The Genoa bridge collapse has shined a spotlight on road maintenance in Italy. Italian investments in roads sank most dramatically among the top five European economies after the 2008 economic crisis, never fully recovering, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


US ‘confident’ North Korea’s Kim to fulfill denuclearization commitments

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
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US ‘confident’ North Korea’s Kim to fulfill denuclearization commitments

  • ‘We are talking with the North Koreans about implementing all of those commitments’
  • ‘We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled’

WASHINGTON: The United States remains confident that denuclearization “promises” made during a historic summit between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will be fulfilled, a State Department spokesperson said Thursday.
The comments came after state media in Pyongyang said Kim had supervised the testing of a “high-tech” new weapon that Yonhap news agency called successful.
“At the Singapore Summit, President Trump and Chairman Kim made a number of commitments regarding final, fully verified denuclearization and creating a brighter future for North Korea,” the US statement said.
“We are talking with the North Koreans about implementing all of those commitments,” it continued. “The President has made clear that if Kim Jong Un denuclearizes, there is a bright future for North Korea.”
“We remain confident that the promises made by President Trump and Chairman Kim will be fulfilled.”
Trump and Kim met at a historic summit in Singapore in June, where they signed a vaguely worded document on denuclearization of the peninsula.
Progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document, and a return to testing would cast grave doubts over the future of the process.
The North Korean reports of a new weapon did not specify the device involved but said the “high-tech tactical weapon” had been developed over a long period and “builds impregnable defenses of our country and strengthens the fighting power of our people’s army.”
Pyongyang’s suspension of testing for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles has been key to this year’s rapid diplomatic developments and North Korean-US negotiations, and has received repeated praise from Trump.