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Bridges on list of worst in state

SALISBURY ó Even as their replacements are under construction, the twin spans carrying Interstate 85 traffic over the Yadkin River bridge are again among the worst bridges in the state, according to AAA Carolinas.
The Yadkin River Bridge, built in 1955, ranked sixth-worst in the state, the same ranking as last year. The bridge has been on the AAAís list of substandard bridges for the past five years.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun a $300 million project to replace the bridge and several others, along with widening and realigning the interstate in Rowan and Davidson counties.
The worst bridge in the state, according to AAAís annual report, is a 40-year-old span along I-277 in Mecklenburg County that carries more than 110,000 vehicles a day. Itís the newest bridge on the list but also one of the most heavily traveled.
AAA has been rating the stateís bridges since, 1998 giving extra emphasis to the amount of traffic a bridge carries because of the effect on commuters and travelers.
Bridges in Guilford County and Forsyth County, built in 1955, came in second and third, on the report of substandard bridges in North Carolina.
Substandard bridges account for 29 percent of North Carolinaís 18,290 state-maintained bridges, a 1 percent increase from last year.
ěSafety remains our top priority,î state Highway Administrator Terry Gibson said in the AAA press release. ěIn a time of limited resources, we are always looking for innovative ways to fund our comprehensive plan for timely bridge maintenance, preservation, rehabilitation and replacement. We continue to work with our partners to use hard data to ensure we are meeting the stateís most critical bridge needs.î
AAA Carolinasí rankings found:
The average age of AAAís top 20 substandard bridges is 49 years, slightly newer than the average 51-year-old average age of those bridges in 1996.
The top 20 substandard bridges on AAAís list carry an average of 53,750 vehicles daily and combined the bridges carry more than 7.5 million vehicles a week.
A total of 5,321 bridges are substandard, down from 5,647 four years ago or 30.5 percent substandard.
Substandard bridges are officially classified under federal guidelines as ěstructurally deficientî or ěfunctionally obsoleteî with AAA Carolinas assigning extra weight to traffic volume to highlight bridges affecting the most motorists.
Structurally deficient is defined as being in relatively poor physical condition and/or inadequate to handle truck weight.
Functionally obsolete is defined as having inadequate design for current traffic volume. States inspect bridges to determine their condition and qualify for federal aid replacement funds when a bridge scores less than 50 on a 100-point scale.

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