There are 13,700 bridges in North Carolina. What condition are they in?

RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — In the wake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore, you may be wondering about the state of bridges in North Carolina.

In Baltimore, a cargo ship lost power and struck a support for the Francis Scott Key Bridge on Tuesday morning, causing a portion of the bridge to plunge into the water.

WATCH: Video shows moment Francis Scott Key bridge collapses after cargo ship crash

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says there are 13,700 bridges in the state under their jurisdiction. Of those, 1,150, or about 8.4%, are in “poor condition.” About 2,700, or about 19.7%, are “functionally obsolete.”

NCDOT clarifies that bridges identified as being in poor condition are still considered safe. These bridges may have components deteriorating or require significant maintenance or weight limits.

A bridge is "functionally obsolete" if it can no longer meet the demands of the traffic that uses it. These bridges may need to be improved or replaced due to issues such as narrow lanes, low height clearances or weight limits. These bridges are also considered safe by NCDOT.

NCDOT says it would cost more than $4 billion to replace all of the bridges in "poor condition" in North Carolina. For 2024, the state has given the department $333 million for replacements, $47 million for maintenance and $86.5 million for preservation, and the federal government added $139 million for replacement and $11 million for preservation.

Virginia Dare bridge in North Carolina (Getty Images)
Virginia Dare bridge in North Carolina (Getty Images)

Guilford County has more bridges than any other county with 502, according to data for January 2024. Of those, 34 are structurally deficient and 82 are functionally obsolete.

After Guilford, the counties with the most bridges in the state are Wake with 493, Buncombe with 438, Mecklenburg with 420 and Forsyth with 291.

North Carolina's longest bridge is the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge at 5.2 miles. The bridge, which opened in August 2002 and crosses the Croatan Sound near Edenton, was named in honor of the first English child born in the Americas. As of January 2024, this bridge is "not deficient" according to NCDOT.

Bridges in North Carolina are inspected at least once every two years. Inspectors look at facets of the bridge, like railings, decks and expansion joints, and a team of divers looks at parts of bridges that are underwater.

If NCDOT finds any safety or structural issues, the department may post a weight limit, make immediate repairs or close the bridge until the repairs can be made.

As a policy, NCDOT does not allow any traffic on bridges deemed unsafe.

A full list of all bridges in the state, including current condition, is available on the NCDOT website.

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