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Overview

The North Carolina 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.

Quick Facts

  • 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 February 2017, about 1,750, or 13 percent, of the state's bridges were considered structurally deficient.

Structurally deficient bridges are safe; however, they have components in poor condition due to deterioration. They require significant maintenance to remain in service, and may require limits on vehicle weights. To fully address the issues on a structurally deficient bridge, extensive rehabilitation or replacement is usually required.

Another commonly used term is functionally obsolete. A functionally obsolete bridge no longer meets 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 repair or rehabilitate all structurally deficient bridges, it would cost more than $3.8 billion.

Inspections

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:

  • Railings
  • Decks
  • Expansion joints
  • Superstructure
  • Substructure

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 Fiscal Year 2017-18


State Funds for Bridge Improvement:
Maintenance Replacement Preservation
$30 million* $280 million $80 million
Federal Funding to NC Bridge Program:
Replacement Preservation
$64 million $10 million

*Funding distributed based on need for bridge maintenance.

Bridge Health Index

NCDOT is committed to measuring and improving our 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.

List of Bridges and Current Status

  • List of North Carolina bridges PDF format | Excel format

    The data provided in this list is current as of Oct. 23, 2017, and is subject to change based on re-inspection or changes due to maintenance and/or construction

Bridge Locations

Bridge Project Map/Project Lookup

Learn More

Bridge Guidelines, Stats, & Studies

Contact Information

For more information and general questions about bridges, send us a message, call (919) 707-6400 or view the Structures Management Unit contact directory.

For bridge load and permit questions, send us a message, call (919) 814-3700 or view the Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit contact directory.