Thousands of North Carolina bridges 'structurally deficient'

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A new report released Wednesday says nearly 56,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient. (WTVD)

A new report released Wednesday says nearly 56,000 bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient.


The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) compiled the list based on data from the Transportation Department.

North Carolina is among the worst in the country.

According to the report, 1,790 of the state's 18,099 bridges are classified as structurally deficient or in need of major repairs.

3,086 bridges are classified as functionally obsolete, meaning they do not meet current design standards.

The Capital Boulevard bridge over Peace Street in Raleigh, built in 1948, is listed as one of the top traveled in North Carolina and declared structurally deficient.

More than 40,000 vehicles pass over it every day. The bridge is slated to be replaced starting this summer as part of a larger project for improvements along Capital Blvd.

Bridges at Harrison Avenue over I-40 and Capital Blvd. over Crabtree Creek are also listed as top traveled, structurally deficient bridges in Wake County.

Both were inspected in 2016.

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The bridge on Harrison Avenue is not currently scheduled to be replaced and does not have any safety issues according to North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The bridge on Capital Blvd. over Crabtree Creek is scheduled to be replaced in the fiscal year 2024-25.

"You're always going to have new bridges coming online as structurally deficient, so even if we erase the backlog today, there would be more bridges that became structurally deficient," said Greg Perfetti, NCDOT Director of Field Support.

According to NCDOT's website, as much as 40 percent of the state's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, but Perfetti said that does not mean they are too dangerous for drivers.

"We would never compromise the safety of the traveling public here in North Carolina. If a bridge is open, it is safe," he said.

NCDOT follows strict inspection guidelines.

About 9,000 of the state's bridges are inspected every year, and all of them are inspected every two years.

NCDOT currently replaces about 300 bridges annually and said it is on target with money coming from the state, but to repair all of North Carolina's deficient bridges would cost $9.4 billion.

"We are fortunate in North Carolina that the legislature has recognized the importance of having a rigorous replacement program, so at the current funding levels, we are making significant progress on reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges in the state," said Perfetti.

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