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Study: N.C. bridges, dams need repair

North Carolina dams and bridges are not keeping up with the state’s growth and new report urges lawmakers to make improvements.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave North Carolina dams a “D” and bridges a “C-” in its 2013 infrastructure report card released Thursday. The state received a “C” overall across 11 categories.

The report says 10 percent of the state’s high hazard dams are deficient and only 34 percent have emergency action plans. A third of North Carolina’s dams are over 50 years-old.

The report says there is no consistent funding for non-federal, publicly owned dam rehabilitations, which are expected to cost $1.9 billion.

A recent report by AAA Carolinas says 39 percent of North Carolina’s bridges are substandard, which means they are either in poor physical condition or structurally insufficient for the current traffic volume.

The ASCE report card says North Carolina needs to spend $281 million more per year in order to significantly improve the state’s bridges.

Terry Gibson, chief engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said in an e-mail, “Our roads, bridges, and rail lines are safe for travelers and NCDOT makes it a top priority to keep it that way.”

Gibson said the department has proposed a new way to use existing money to pay for more improvements.

Clark Barrineau, a spokesman for ASCE, said the May 23 collapse of the Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington state has drawn attention to the condition of the country’s bridges.

He said lawmakers should act before the state’s infrastructure fails. “It will cost more the longer we wait,” Barrineau said.

Barrineau said a lot of the state’s transportation infrastructure was built after World War II. “North Carolina has grown tremendously and our infrastructure has remained relatively the same,” Barrineau said.

Energy received a “B+,” the highest grade on the report card. The report says North Carolina’s energy infrastructure currently meets its 20-year planning horizon. Other areas receiving low grades included rail lines, storm water systems and beaches and inlets.

The country was given an overall score of “D+.” The report says the United States needs to invest $3.6 trillion in infrastructure.

Haggerty: 704-358-6180
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