The number of substandard bridges in South Carolina has increased from 21 percent in 1996 to 23 percent in 2004, as the state continues to battle with deteriorating roads and bridges worsened by a lack of funds.
Even though South Carolina has the fourth-largest state maintained highway system in the nation, the Palmetto state ranks dead last in the nation in per mile expenditure for roads and highways.
The state spends $3,806 per mile for road and bridge maintenance - the national average is $14,761.
Currently, South Carolina ranks 20th highest in the nation for the number of substandard bridges. While South Carolina's 23 percent of substandard bridges is less than the 31 percent in North Carolina, the number is worse than neighbors Georgia (16 percent) and Tennessee (18 percent).
"It's less expensive to keep bridges in good repair than it is to replace them," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "Until the state legislature recognizes that and increases the state's maintenance budget, bridges are only going to get worse and repair costs higher."
For the fifth consecutive year, the Interstate 26 bridge in Richland County that passes over the CN&L railroad tracks three miles northwest of Columbia was ranked as the state's worst substandard bridge.
The remaining top five are unchanged from last year as well. The rest of the top five worst substandard bridges, according to AAA Carolinas, are:
2. Interstate 26 over SC Highway 642 in Charleston County;
3. U.S. Highway 52 over U.S. Highway 78 westbound lane (one mile south of U.S. 176) in Charleston County;
4. I-26 over Southern Railway (No. 1) 3 miles west of West Columbia;
5. U.S. Highway 17 over the Cooper River in Charleston.
AAA Carolina's ranking also found: