Get to Know North Carolina’s Mediocre Infrastructure


Today, North Carolina’s civil engineers released a new Infrastructure Report Card. After spending a year diving into the details of the state’s infrastructure – from bridges to beaches to dams – they determined that North Carolina’s infrastructure only deserved a mediocre C grade. Like many areas of the country, North Carolina has some work to do to make sure maintenance gets done, aging parts of the system get a modern overhaul, and the infrastructure keeps up with the state’s growth.

The state-wide report examined eleven categories of infrastructure, grading their capacity, resiliency, funding, and reliability. Here’s what they found:

  • Aviation earned a D+, in part due to an estimated $763 million needed to bring all airports in the system to a state of good repair.
  • Beaches and Inlets were awarded a C-. Many shoals and inlets are functioning at significantly less than authorized depths. Continued erosion of federal and state funding has a significant impact N.C.’s beaches and inlets.
  • Bridges earned a C-.  North Carolina’s bridges require $281 million more per year in order to make significant strides in raising the grade of North Carolina bridges.
  • Dams earned the lowest grade of a D. Ten percent of North Carolina’s high hazard dams are deficient and only 34 percent have Emergency Action Plans. One-third of North Carolina’s dams are over 50 years old.
  • Drinking Water earned a C+. North Carolina has over 530 public water systems which serve approximately 7.3 million North Carolinians (75 percent of the state’s population).
  • Energy was awarded the highest grade in the report of a B+. North Carolina has a solid foundation of energy and energy infrastructure to meet its current and 20-year planning horizon needs.
  • Rail earned a C+, in part due to only 30 percent of the state’s short lines being able to accommodate new, heavier rail cars. It is estimated that freight rail investment needs over the next 25 years will total $545 million.
  • Roads earned a C. The scale of the state maintained highway network, current economic circumstances, and the trend of reducing the state transportation agency’s resources and personnel have been challenges to providing and maintaining a sustainable quality of service.
  • Schools earned a C. Over 58 percent of North Carolina schools will require renovations in the next five years. Additionally, approximately 10 percent of students are in mobile classrooms. The projected cost to meet facility needs for the next five years is approximately $8.2 billion.
  • Stormwater earned a grade of C-. Most of North Carolina’s population lives in communities that have no dedicated source of funding to improve stormwater quality. Statewide sources of funding such as the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund are being reduced and North Carolina’s communities have fewer and fewer options when trying to address their stormwater improvement needs.
  • Wastewater earned a C. North Carolina has documented a need of over $4 billion of additional wastewater infrastructure investment needs through the year 2030. These funds are needed to replace aging facilities, comply with mandated Clean Water Act regulations, and keep pace with economic development.

Get all the details from the full North Carolina Report Card here.

Interested in seeing how another state ranks? See ASCE’s full State Report Card list here.  Want to get updates from ASCE on infrastructure issues? Sign up here!

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