NCtrend: Arch enemies

Fourteen percent of the bridges in rural North Carolina are deficient, according to a July report from Road Information Program Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based transportation research nonprofit. That might sound like rural counties are getting a raw deal, but 17% of all Tar Heel bridges are structurally deficient (in poor condition). That jumps to 40% when you include the functionally obsolete (too narrow, inadequate clearances and/or insufficient load-carrying capacity). Don’t panic. Once a bridge is deemed too dangerous to be crossed, N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott says, it is immediately closed. Still, NCDOT spent more than $400 million fixing or replacing them last year, partly because poor bridges stall commerce. “They’re a major piece of transportation in North Carolina in terms of marrying goods and people,” he says.