Are North Carolina bridges safe?

Drivers in North Carolina may want to use more caution when driving on bridges throughout the state. Roughly 30 percent of bridges in the state are considered “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete,” according to the National Bridge Inventory.

“Functionally obsolete” means that the traffic or environment has changed since the bridge was built and can make the bridge unsafe for drivers under certain circumstances, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Bridges that are labeled as “structurally deficient” usually need minor to significant repair and maintenance. In some cases, bridges may need to be completely replaced.

A bridge investigator for the N.C. DOT said that many of these bridges need some repairs but they are still safe to drive on. However, public safety advocates say that even if many of the bridges are still safe to drive on, if maintenance and repairs are not made soon, public safety may be put in danger.

Reports found that a few of the “structurally deficient” bridges were supposed to be closed to traffic but cars continued to drive on these bridges. Many of the unsafe bridges were not listed as being under construction and no signs were posted to indicate that the bridges may be structurally unsafe.

North Carolina inspects all bridges at least every two years, according to the N.C. DOT. The DOT says they address any structural issues found during bridge inspections by assigning maintenance crews or contracting repairs. The N.C. DOT has $65 million assigned for bridge maintenance every year. For North Carolina bridges to be repaired through the federal bridge replacement funding program, the bridge must have a sufficiency rating of less than 50, according to the N.C. DOT.

Unsafe bridges throughout North Carolina could pose risks for motorists. While the state DOT has some funds to try and repair unsafe bridges, safety advocates are concerned that there is not enough time or money to fix all “structurally deficient” bridges before an accident happens.

Source: MSNBC, “Are North Carolina’s ‘structurally deficient’ bridges safe?” Dianne Gallagher, Jan. 16, 2013

Our law firm represents victims of car accidents caused by unsafe roads. To learn more about our law firm can help, please visit our North Carolina car accidents page.

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