Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Find the bad bridges in N.C., S.C.

If you get a shiver whenever you drive over the Yadkin River bridge on I-85 between Rowan and Davidson counties, you might find it instructive to spend a few minutes seeing how your county, and your state, compare nationally in a ranking of deficient highway bridges.

The nonprofit Transportation for America coalition has pulled together an online tool that lets you see state and county stats on highway bridges deemed deficient by the federal government. Here's the North Carolina page. The Tar Heel state ranks No. 14 in the percentage of deficient bridges, 13 percent.

Rockingham County, north of Greensboro, is the worst county, with 33.6 percent of its bridges rated deficient. In the Charlotte metro region, Cabarrus is worst - No. 4 in the state - with 25 percent.

South Carolina is right there with us, ranking No. 15, also with 13 percent of its bridges deficient. The three worst states, in order: Pennsylvania (26.5 percent), Oklahoma (22 percent), Iowa (21.7 percent).

It's hard to see how this isn't yet another problem confronting our national and state transportation policies, where (my opinion here) disproportionate money has been spent on building new highways with little regard for the costs of future maintenance.

The group's assessment of the roots of the problem: "Two key problems persist: while Congress has repeatedly declared bridge safety a national priority, existing federal programs don't ensure that aging bridges actually get fixed; and the current level of investment is nowhere near what is needed to keep up with our rapidly growing backlog of aging bridges. Did you know that states can transfer up to half of their federal money dedicated to bridge repair to other projects, no questions asked?"

Here's a link to the page describing what data was used.

And for the record, the NCDOT is working on rebuilding that Yadkin River bridge.

Photo credit: Yadkin River bridge, in 2007 Observer file photo


Don said...

I'm sure former Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota disagrees with you about bridges, particularly Interstate highway bridges over rivers, needing maintenance and replacement.

Ghoul said...

Just think how many of these bridges could have been fixed with all the money the Democrats stole from the gas tax Highway Trust Fund.

Know it all said...

Pawlenty did little before or after the accident to alleviate the problems in Minnesota. He was too busy recreating his image as a tea party candidate. That's why he won't even win his own state's endorsement.

stanky jackson said...

I'd be scared if I was driving a little electric car instead of my big diesel dually.

Majordad said...

Aren't statistics wonderful!
- Did you note that NC roads carry 113,730,538 vehicles EVERY DAY?
- Did you note that the percentage of NC traffic on those "deficient" bridges is only 7.20% of the daily total? 92.8% DON'T travel on "deficient" bridges.
- Does "deficient" equal "unsafe"? If so, there's your story. If not, well.....

Larry said...

Expanding our reach? Great to see you are doing this.

Larry said...

Know it all is right, the problems are not on how things were done in the past but on how they were done in the last couple of month on that bridge that fell.

Anyone will tell you that you can just weld a few welds and things are great. But that guy was too busy trying to save money.

Why his wife and kids going over it day after day did not even phase him. Yep know it all has it right those spending people in the past were not the problem at all.

Anonymous said...

Recently traffic patterns in Union County have shifted putting 80,000 pound trucks going 65 mph on NC 218 regularily. The bridge on 218 at Goose Creek was built about 50 years ago when trucks were limited to 40,000 pounds and the speed limit was 45. Scares me and I am fearless.

Anonymous said...

Why is our government giving money to private companies to build a new rail line (already obsolete technology that shortens the travel time by less than the average delay of the trips for the record) instead of fixing the failing infrastructure for which they are 100% responsible? I mean isn't this a problem that those of all political leanings can agree on? This is madness.

Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous commenter, here's a response:

- Because tracks last decades, while roads wear out within 8 years in this country.

- Because rail cars and locomotives last decades, while automobiles and buses wear out within 10 years.

- Because train tracks don't cause the flood danger that wide paved roads cause.

- Because running trains takes less energy than running anything on a road.

- Because if you electrify train tracks, you can use any energy you want to run the trains: oil, gas, coal, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, gerbils on treadmills, whatever you have.

I really do despair at all this inanity. It used to be that engineers were centrists, some Democratic, some Republicans. No more. Go to any engineering school in the country these days, and you'll have a hard time finding Republicans. You can thank the Tea Party's double-down-on-the-stupid platform for that.

Anonymous said...


And a $14,000,000,000,000.00 national debt is smart HOW?

Anonymous said...

Well, we have a huge national debt no matter what. The only question is whether we build infrastructure that will last, and that will help our energy predicament, or whether we keep maintaining infrastructure that wears itself out within a decade.