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RALEIGH, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — In light of the bridge collapse in Washington, the North Carolina Department of Transportation wants to educate our citizens and visitors about how we keep North Carolina’s bridges maintained for safe travel.

“Safety is always a top priority and every bridge that is open in North Carolina is safe for drivers,” said Transportation Secretary Terry Tata. “We have comprehensive inspection, rehabilitation, and maintenance programs in place because our bridges play a vital role in connecting people to work, school and popular vacation destinations.”

Investing in our bridges
NCDOT is investing more money than ever to improve the state’s bridges. About $450 million in state funds have been invested over the past two years to replace, preserve or repair bridges, enabling the department to improve more than 1,000 bridges across the state with a focus on replacing and improving structurally deficient bridges. Additionally, proposed state budgets include about $300 million to continue the program over the next two years.

North Carolina has inspection, posting and closing procedures in place to assure public safety by closing bridges when necessary.

·Each bridge in North Carolina is inspected at least every two years in accordance with the National Bridge Inspection Standards.
·Any identified structural problem is addressed by contract repairs or by NCDOT bridge maintenance crews, which are located across the state.
·If a bridge is deemed unsafe, it would immediately be repaired or closed to traffic.

What inspectors look for in an inspection
Survey teams assess the condition of five elements on each bridge: railings, decks, expansion joints, superstructure and substructure. Inspection activities identify maintenance and repair needs to bridge items such as timber and steel handrails; timber, concrete and steel decks; expansion joints; steel and concrete beams; support piles and footings. The condition of each bridge is then summarized into a statewide bridge condition rating, along with the type and extent of repairs needed, if any. A thorough structural analysis is performed and safe load carrying capacities are determined. If necessary, weight restrictions are placed on the bridge.

·Total NCDOT Bridges – 13,500
·Structurally Deficient – 2,663. This means that while the bridge remains safe, it requires repairs and was built to design standards no longer used for bridges. A bridge is considered structurally deficient if it is in relatively poor condition, or has insufficient load-carrying capacity. The insufficient load capacity could be due to age, the original design or to wear and tear.
·Functionally Obsolete – 4,479. This means the bridge is safe, but needs to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands. A bridge is considered functionally obsolete if it is narrow, has inadequate under-clearances, has insufficient load-carrying capacity, is poorly aligned with the roadway, and can no longer adequately service today’s traffic.
·In NC we have 35 truss-type bridges (the type involved in the Washington incident).

Working with local municipalities
NCDOT inspects all state-owned structures and municipalities are responsible for inspecting their own structures. NCDOT does offer technical assistance with municipal inspections. Municipalities have three options:
Ask NCDOT to contract with private engineering firms to do the inspection (the municipality reimburses the department);
The municipality handles the private engineering firm contract with NCDOT’s approval of the contract inspectors; or
The municipality can perform their own inspection. None of the municipalities in North Carolina are currently doing so.

For more information, please visit www.ncdot.gov/projects/ncbridges.

Comment on this Story

  • Vog46

    If I read the tea leaves correctly they are moving $129M out of rural road maintenance funds into the new building fund so that Pat can bribe his big city constituents with a new project.
    As we talk infrastructure maintenance and repair we are talking here in NC about moving monies our of repair.
    Talk about going the wrong way……..
    We should be very careful with our new projects…….considering how many old bridges w have here already.


  • ChefnSurf

    After the bridge collapse in Washington, our DOT goes into PR mode to assure us all of our bridges are fine, complete with multiple detailed paragraphs explaining procedures.

    I know this might seem a little bass ackwards but … if everything’s really OK, why go out of one’s way to tell everyone that everything’s OK? That just feels just a little too proactively like someone covering one’s own butt.

    Probably just my innate suspicion of government bureaucrats and politicians kicking in again. After all, with all of that gas tax money NC collects for maintenance, I’m sure all of it’s being used for that purpose and nothing else. Well, at least I think I’m sort of sure. Right?

  • Guest Reply

    Safety huh?
    I’m curious about…how many tires have been damaged/front ends knocked out of alignment/motorcyclist swerving/people that have been affected by the drawbridge on the Cape Fear Bridge not lining up heading towards Leland? You know…the chunk of grating that sticks up an inch or 2 above the pavement once you hit the draw. Maybe that’s the reason there are wrecks now and again…but drivers are blamed. Nah…probably not…but their math was off on that Monday morning.
    The geometric design stinks…and very questionable by engineers to just…”let it go” back then. Guess they figured no one would notice. We have “all” noticed!

    Here’s the formula: Picture a Pyramid design…like in Egypt…or Burgaw even…..
    {Let x + a be the length of each the raised sections, where a is the length of the overlapping section
    Then 2x + a = ? meters and a = ? meters,
    Implies x = ? and x+a =?.
    Cos 60 = c/(x+a)
    0.5 = c /28
    c = 14
    Clearance width of the bridge,when the sections are raised to an angle of 60 degree = (i.e.) 54 – 2c = 54 -28 = 26 }

    I did this on paper, and found out the bridge was 6.33345 miles too short :-)
    So there…Fix It! That will be 5 bucks please :-)

  • Vog46


    I’m sorry but you should be hired as a design engineer for NC DOT.
    High 5 figure salary
    Don’t have to work too hard
    Retire with BCBS bennys for life…….

    And YOU ask for $5?????????
    AND say please?


  • Joyce Ingraham

    They need to inspect the Isabell Holmes Bridge. There are chunks of concrete on the pylons that have fallen from the bridge above.


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