Local News

Many Local Bridges Overdue for Replacements

Posted December 28, 2006 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated December 28, 2006 9:23 p.m. EST

— The span crossing Mango Swamp east of Dunn is a tired little bridge, graying and aching after 70 years of rubber hitting the road.

These days, it carries N.C. Highway 55 and its speedy flow of thousands of vehicles every day.

The bridge is supported by old-fashioned wood pilings. It, along with another old bridge nearby, was supposed to be replaced four years ago.

"It's very narrow and very scary, and it's worse in the winter when they don't pick up the snow and sleet through here,” driver Sonja Bustos said.

This year, AAA reports that more than 31 percent of North Carolina bridges need to be repaired or replaced—the highest number in the Southeast.

Every two years, the state conducts a safety analysis on every bridge in North Carolina. The top rating is 100. For the Mango Swamp bridge, the latest rating was six.

When asked if the bridges are safe, driver Robbie Walker said: “No, they're not safe. They're too narrow, and as you can see on the highway, it's busy all the time.”

The Mango Swamp bridge proved to be deadly last July, when a 45-year-old driver crashed into it. The Highway Patrol said it's not clear what caused the wreck.

State Department of Transportation officials said the Highway 55 bridges will be replaced in 2009 at a cost of more than $2.5 million. some drivers said that they will believe it when they see it.

"I've been hearing that for the last 10 years, almost,” Walker said.

DOT officials told WRAL that mapping out appropriate detours for the traffic-clogged road has been the cause of delays. They said, however, that all the holdups have been cleared.