Local bridge among worst in state

Jun 03, 2013

A Haywood County bridge came in as the seventh worst bridge in the state in a recent report by AAA Carolinas.

About 238,000 vehicles pass over the 48-year-old bridge on U.S. 23/74 over U.S. 19/23 daily, a heavy amount of traffic that has led to it being considered "structurally deficient."

North Carolina has the nation’s second-largest state-maintained highway system with more than 79,000 miles of state-owned and maintained highways. NCDOT is also responsible for 13,317 bridges; 39 percent of those are substandard.

Substandard bridges are officially classified under federal guidelines as “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete.”

“Structurally deficient” is defined as being in relatively poor physical condition and/or inadequate to handle truck weight. “Functionally obsolete” is defined as having inadequate design for current traffic volume. States inspect bridges to determine their condition and qualify for federal aid replacement funds when a bridge scores less than 50 on a 100-point scale.

According to the report, NCDOT plans to replace the bridge in 2021.

Topping the list as the worst bridge in the state for the fifth year in a row was a 58-year-old bridge overpass in Greensboro.

In order to repair or replace the deteriorating bridges, DOT will require more funding.

“Inadequate funding for road and bridge maintenance over the past decade means we still have a significant number of substandard bridges in North Carolina,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “We need to find new sources of funding for our state’s Department of Transportation.”

DOT has spent $450 million over the past two years to replace, preserve or repair more than 1,000 bridges across the state, including replacing or improving 470 structurally deficient bridges. An additional $300 million in proposed state budgets would enable the NCDOT to continue the program over the next two years.

One of Canton's oldest bridges on Park Street was among many that DOT replaced last year.

None of North Carolina’s substandard bridges pose an immediate threat to motorists at this time.

"Improving our infrastructure is critical to improving the state’s economy," said NCDOT Chief Engineer Terry Gibson. "The money we are spending on replacing and improving our substandard bridges is a great investment in fueling that growth. It will improve the flow of transportation of products from manufacturers and our farms, and provide better transportation access across the state.”

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