More than 5,000 bridges across North Carolina are in need of repair, according to a report out this month by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: Yeah, that report finding 6 million cars drive over these bridges labeled as structurally deficient each day. And now a third of the most-traveled bridges that also need repairs are found right here in the Triangle.
The bridges on I-40 over Walnut Creek and over Big Branch Creek, identified as two of the most-used bridges but also structurally deficient, meaning one element of the bridge is in poor or worse condition. A report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association finds around 200 other bridges around the Triangle falling in this category.
But are they, you know, unsafe? Is there a cause for concern?
- Not really. I mean, this is actually-- we are, I think-- let me-- my cheat sheet-- right now, only 8% of the bridges in the state are considered in poor or structurally-deficient condition. And they're all safe for travel. They're safe. They may have some weight limits and so forth, but they're safe.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: This percent actually used to be higher-- since 2019, NCDOT moving 400 bridges off their poor condition list, [? Abbott ?] adding the top three Wake County bridges are being worked on now.
- Because we have a limited amount of money to fix these things. To put every bridge in good shape is close to $4 billion. We don't have $4 billion. So you have to-- that's why we have to prioritize.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: Bridges are only one aspect that need funding. Roads and airports also need attention. Funding is obviously a top challenge, and advocates around the state want to tackle it by going beyond the gas tax.
- There's a growing body of evidence that shows North Carolina is not putting the investment into their transportation system that we need to.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: The North Carolina Chamber and other business groups hoping the state can adopt a more sustainable way to pay for infrastructure projects going forward.
- When roads are maintained, and when roads are expanded and improved upon, economic development-- and frankly, jobs-- follow that growth.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: More federal dollars could be part of the solution, earlier this week, President Biden announcing a close to $2 trillion federal infrastructure plan.
- I would think as the country pulls out of the pandemic and looks toward the future, that this infrastructure plan is just what the doctor ordered. It's about jobs. I mean, infrastructure, construction-- whether you're talking broadband or housing or school construction or roads and bridges-- it is about jobs, particularly in this time of economic recovery.
SAMANTHA KUMMERER: Congressman David Price also calling the recent bridge report alarming and hoping real action can be taken soon. For the I-Team, Samantha Kummerer, "ABC11 Eyewitness News."