DOT to emphasize bridge maintenance

The DOT plans to spend about $20 million a year on preventative maintenance for bridges and invest $25 million in federal funds on preservation and replacement projects.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The state Department of Transportation said Wednesday it plans to place more emphasis on bridge maintenance and preservation.

The DOT plans to spend about $20 million a year on preventive maintenance, such as painting structural steel, cleaning bearings, repairing and replacing expansion joints, applying materials that slow corrosion and waterproofing and resurfacing decks and approaches.

The state received about $25 million of the $1 billion Congress allocated earlier this year for bridges nationwide following the collapse of an interstate bridge in Minneapolis a year ago.

About $8 million of that federal funding will be spent on bridge preservation, officials said. Another $12 million will be used to replace bridges that the DOT otherwise wouldn't have been able to replace for eight to 10 years.

The remaining $5 million will be invested in a comprehensive bridge management system that will help engineers better analyze bridge needs and target resources.

State inspectors check each bridge across the state at least once every two years.

More than 2,300 of the 12,712 bridges the DOT maintains are considered structurally deficient, which means they can handle limited loads and need significant maintenance. Another 2,878 bridges statewide are considered functionally obsolete, meaning they have inadequate lane or shoulder widths or clearances.

“Our bridges are safe, and we are committed to keeping them that way for the ever-increasing demands on the highway system,” Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said in a statement.