The N.C. Department of Transportation is responsible for the safety of more than 18,000 bridges, pipes and culverts along North Carolina's highways. To ensure the safety of motorists who rely on these bridges, NCDOT has an aggressive inspection program.
- NCDOT is responsible for inspecting and taking care of about 18,000 structures:
- 13,500 bridges
- 4,500 culverts and pipes that are 20 feet or longer, which means they fit the federal definition of a bridge
- About 9,000 structures are inspected each year by certified bridge inspectors.
- As of March 2021, about 1,100, or 8.2 percent, of the state's bridges were considered in poor condition.
Poor condition bridges are safe, however, they have components that are deteriorating. They require significant maintenance to remain in service and might require limits on vehicle weights. To fully address the issues on a poor condition bridge, extensive rehabilitation or replacement is usually required.
Another commonly used term is
functionally obsolete. A functionally obsolete bridge no longer meet the demands of the traffic using it. These bridges are safe but need to be improved or replaced due to narrow lanes, low height clearances or have posted weight limits.
- For NCDOT to replace all poor condition bridges, it would cost more than $3.8 billion.
NCDOT follows National Bridge Inspection Standards and ensures each bridge is inspected at least every two years.
If a bridge is found to have safety issues or structural concerns, NCDOT immediately takes action. Depending on the severity of the issue, the department may post a weight limit on the bridge, make immediate repairs or close the bridge completely until repairs can be made. Traffic will not be allowed on a bridge that is unsafe.
All bridges go through a natural deterioration or aging process, although each bridge is unique in the way it ages. Regular inspections help the department identify and schedule bridges for maintenance and repair.
Qualified inspection teams assess the condition of all elements on a bridge during an inspection, including:
- Expansion joints
A team of divers trained in underwater bridge inspection examine parts of the bridge that are underwater.
The condition of the major components is then recorded into a statewide bridge database, 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.
Funding Breakdown for 2021
|Maintenance||Replacement ||Preservation |
|$36 million*||$273 million||$60 million|
| Replacement||Preservation |
|$55 million||$9 million|
*Funding distributed based on need for bridge maintenance.
Bridge Health Index
NCDOT is committed to measuring and improving its overall performance. One of the department's goals is to make the state's infrastructure last longer by setting a target for at least 70 percent of bridges rated to be in good condition or better.
Good means that the bridge can safely carry the typical-sized commercial or passenger vehicles for that route. For example, an interstate route would have a higher weight expectation than a rural secondary road.
To achieve this goal, the department uses a data-driven strategy to improve the overall condition of all bridges in North Carolina by focusing taxpayer dollars where they're needed most.
Bridge Guidelines, Stats & Studies
Disclaimer: The data provided in this list is current as of March 2021, and is subject to change based on re-inspection or changes due to maintenance and/or construction. If your load exceeds the maximum allowable posting on the bridge, please contact the Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit.
N.C. Drawbridge Map
Bridge & Culvert Letting