Unintended consequences of current legislation have established funding vulnerabilities for bridges critical to North Carolina's agricultural industry. Current legislation restricts the use of State bridge funds to Functionally Obsolete or Structurally Deficient bridges. Meanwhile, weight restricted bridges (only allowed to transport vehicles or trucks of limited weights) do not meet the requirements for being categorized as Functionally Obsolete or Structurally Deficient. Additionally, North Carolina funding targeted for improving weight and clearance restrictions is currently limited to higher traffic routes. This combination of occurrences makes it possible for bridges restrictive to heavy load to fail to qualify for State bridge improvement programs and funding targeted for improving weight and clearance restrictions. As a result, bridges that are critical nodes in North Carolina's agricultural freight network are unable to receive dedicated sources of funding for improvements or long-term operative viability.
In 2014, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture provided NCDOT with a tiered list, and corresponding map, of bridges that were critical to the agricultural industry. NCDOT has used this list to identify bridges that are an impediment to agriculture, but do not qualify for other programs since they are not Structurally Deficient, Functionally Obsolete, or reside along a high volume route. The purpose of this project is to update the tiered list of bridges vital to North Carolina's agricultural industry and create a repeatable and efficient process by which this list is periodically updated.