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Frequently Asked Questions

Before you ask, the answer is probably here.

These are real questions. I don't make up fake questions and pretend it's a "FAQ."

Bridge Database Questions

Can you help me find a bridge in the NBI Bridge Database?
Yes. Email me. I'm happy to help you use the NBI Database search engine to find what you are looking for. The NBI Bridge Database is very complex and the data quality varies from state to state so much that after six years I still haven't documented the best way to use my website for bridge research. I'm still working on the NBI Database User Guide.

You put the wrong info in the National Bridge Database.
The NBI contains whatever the State DOT submitted to the FHWA. Rubbish in, rubbish out. Some states are much better at this than others.

You need to repair or inspect XYZ bridge before it collapses like the Minnesota bridge.
Contact your local Department of Transportation about possible structural defects in bridges. I'm a photographer / database engineer / bridge fan in Massachusetts and can't do anything about your bridge.

Can you supply us with Excel tables of bridge data?
Yes, I will do so for a small research fee of $20 per county/table.

There's a bug in the NBI search feature. I get no results or I get unexpected or bad results.
Please email me and tell me what's not working. I'm always adding and changing features and sometimes I break them. The recent move to new server space following the Minnesota bridge collapse was especially challenging and I'm not done repairing it.

The NBI ASCII tables that the FHWA made available on their website are difficult to read, can you help?
That is the reason Nationalbridges.com exists. The ASCII tables are not human-readable, thus I designed a relational database to easily read them and made it publicly accessible on the web for free.

The information about a bridge is out of date. When did you get this information?
The data is current as of the 2006 National Bridge Inventory. The data was collected from the State DOTs during 2006 which means that inspection and other data would have been current as of end-of-year 2005. Any changes since 2005 are not reflected in the 2006 NBI.

Can you send me a detailed list of bridges in some state meeting a certain criteria in the NBI?
Yes. Please email me and tell me what you are looking for. I'll tell you if I can get it and quote a price for my research time. I accept PayPal as payment.

There's a mistake in the Bridge Database.
Yep, probably. The bridge data is provided by the state DOTs as-is to the FHWA and it frequently contains errors. Once I get the data from the FHWA I then convert the NBI to a multi-level MySQL database, but I do not try to clean up the data errors.

Photograph Questions

Can I use one of your photos as a computer desktop image on my own computer?
Yes. Email me if you'd like one. I know I haven't yet responded to many who have asked. I will in time as I have time available. In the past year I have not had time to properly respond to most who have asked. Please be patient. Thank you! I am planning a download page for my most often requested desktop images. If you want a specific image to get on the list, let me know.

My Zakim Bridge photograph is now available for free as a desktop image for personal use only. This is the most popular request, hopefully it will satisfy most who are looking for desktops.

Can I license your photographs for my project/for commercial use?
Yes. Email me. I'll respond as soon as possible when I get home from work or travel. As with any stock photography, my license rates depend on the image and the type of usage.

Can I publish or use your photographs on my website for free?
No. I present my photographs on my own websites for your viewing pleasure. It's not fair to my clients who buy my work and it makes keeping track of copyrights a hassle.

Finding the original image and preparing it takes time, and I have no extra time to give away. I am becoming more strict about this. I do consider bartering agreements if you have something useful to offer, not "site exposure." Please keep in mind that I register my photographs with the U.S. Copyright Office.

A particular organization has approached me a few times for free work. While I have great respect for their accomplishments, their organizer pulls six figures. I'm a laissez-faire capitalist and I think that's wonderful, but I also think I'd be a chump to work for free while someone else profits from my efforts.

Please respect the effort and time I put into this. If we have not made an agreement to do so, you may not publish or distribute my photographs.

Can you add my photographs to your website?
No.

Can I buy a print of...?
Yes. Many images are already available to be ordered as prints. If not, then email me and I will gladly make it available as a print for you.

Can you send me an extra, spare, free print of...?
No. I don't keep spare prints. Besides, my art prints are very reasonably priced right now. If you'd like me to make any print available for purchase, just ask.

General Questions

Can you fix a highway/change construction schedules/do something about some lousy road/hire me at the turnpike authority/etc?
No. MassHighway, MassPike, Massport, DCR, NHDOT and Maine DOT are responsible for their roads and bridges and neither Massroads nor I have any affiliation with these organizations. I can't even get MassHighway to repair their traffic lights down the street.

Can you give me directions/train schedules for...?
Maybe, but wouldn't Mapquest or the MBTA web site be faster?

Can you tell me about where to find freight trains, or the best places for railfanning?
Yes. Email me if you want to talk about trains. I'm most familiar with Guilford/Pan Am District 2 operations. My photographs reflect my favorite railfanning locations. I can point you to some useful mailing lists.

There's a mistake in a photo caption.
Oops. Let me know.

Can you tell me about a certain road?
Maybe. Email me. I may have some interesting information, might know where you can go to find what you're looking for, or I'll be clueless.

Why don't you have any pictures of my hometown?
The reason is one or more of the following:

  • It is far away from Northeastern Massachusetts. The North Shore, the Merrimack Valley, and the mountains of New Hampshire get most of my attention.
  • I don't know how beautiful it is. Do you have some interesting transportation structure nearby? Email me about it. I have travelled to locations to take pictures of places that you have emailed me about. Thank you.
  • There is nothing of interest there. Sorry, there are boring places.

Can you send me all your train pics for my collection?
No. Just enjoy them on the website. They'll be there, I'm not taking them down.

Thanks for visiting!
Alexander


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