Dem. Sen. Reacts to Obama: 'Not Any Bridges in North Carolina in Danger of Falling’

September 22, 2011 - 11:35 AM
Kay Hagan, Barack Obama

Sen. Kay Hagan (D.-N.C.) greets President Barack Obama at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, N.C. on June 13, 2011. (AP Photo)

(CNSnews.com) - Reacting to President Barack Obama’s statement last week that there were 153 “structurally deficient” bridges in North Carolina and that the government should not wait “until another bridge falls” to take action, Sen. Kay Hagan (D.-N.C.) insisted there are no bridges in her state in danger of falling.

“No, no there are not any bridges in North Carolina in danger of falling,” Hagan said when CNSNews.com asked her about Obama’s statement about North Carolina’s “structurally deficient” bridges.

Nonetheless, Hagan supports further spending on roads. “I do know that we do need infrastructure improvements,” she said.

She pointed out that a replacement is currently being built for the Yadkin River bridge on Interstate 85 between Lexington and Salisbury, North Carolina, a project she has supported.

In a Sept. 14 speech in North Carolina pitching his new $447 billion jobs plan, Obama said: “In North Carolina alone, there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be repaired. Four of them are near here, on or around the Beltline. Why would we wait to act until another bridge falls?”

The day after Obama's speech, radio host Rush Limbaugh challenged the president to tell the American people where the bridges were.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation later told CNSNews.com said it does not know where Obama came up with the claim that there are 153 “structurally deficient” bridges in the state, and insisted that all open bridges in the state are in fact safe.

In fact, according to statistics the department has posted online, there are 2,696 structurally deficient bridges in North Carolina—not 153.  However, bridges are rated on a graduated scale of structurally deficiency and being structurally deficient does not mean a bridge is unsafe. 

“All open bridges in North Carolina are safe,” North Carolina Department of Transportation communications officer Julia Merchant told CNSNews.com.

“If a bridge is listed as structurally deficient, it means that there are elements of the bridge that need to be monitored to maintain its structural integrity. It does not mean the bridge is unsafe; it can’t carry a certain amount of weight,” North Carolina Department of Transportation communications officer Julia Merchant told CNSNews.com. “Even if it was maybe designed to carry a certain amount of weight, but it can now carry less weight, then we reduce the weight limit and so we monitor that.”

“All open bridges in North Carolina are safe,” North Carolina Department of Transportation communications officer Julia Merchant told CNSNews.com.

In its "Bridge Preservation Guide," published in August, the Federal Highway Administration said: "More than 25 percent of the Nation's 600,000 bridges are rated as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete."