by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. - North Carolina Department of Transportation crews started to assemble equipment to repair a badly damaged Kannapolis bridge.
Inspectors closed the Lake Fisher bridge after a routine inspection revealed decay and rusted beams.
Channel 9 looked into the bridge's past inspection record and discovered the state knew about these problems for years
The last time the state inspected the bridge was in 2012. After finding decay and corrosion, inspectors listed it as structurally unsound and functionally obsolete.
“They listed a lot of the same issues that we are seeing now. Obviously they have gotten worse -- decay in some of the timber piles,” said NCDOT bridge maintenance engineer Kevin Bridges.
Officials said despite the decay, the bridge was deemed safe for drivers.
NCDOT crews have been inspecting the bridge every few weeks. Last week, after a federal inspection, state officials agreed to close the bridge because of safety concerns.
Bridges said when they hammered one of the wooden piles, it started falling apart.
Kannapolis driver Libby Buchanan is upset they waited this long to act.
“Oh my goodness. That is devastating to me. Devastating to me as a grandmother,” she said.
The state typically inspects bridges every two years. But even though bridges in water tend to decay more quickly, crews aren't required to inspect them more frequently.
NCDOT officials estimate repairing the decaying and rusted beams underneath the bridge will cost about $100,000.
“Why don't they replace the bridge now with the tax money we've been giving them, instead of maintenance work on it?” Buchanan said.
State officials said they had already planned to replace the bridge in 2022. Because that’s only eight years away, they only want to make structural repairs, not cosmetic ones.
While the most visible problem drivers see are the corrosion and potholes on the pavement, officials don’t plan to make any major repairs to the surface. They say while you may not see a difference, the repairs underneath will make the bridge safe to drive on.
NCDOT maintains 13,500 bridges across the state. Close to 6,000 of those bridges are considered structurally deficient.
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