The Worst Bridges in All of North Carolina Are in These 10 Counties

Written by Mackenzie Lesher
Published: September 19, 2023
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North Carolina is a pioneer in aviation, having pristine mountains and beaches, and its historical significance. However, the Tar Heel state also has infrastructure issues, with a large number of bridges being unsafe. With over 18,000 bridges in the state, it is no wonder that some of them are decrepit. According to the Federal Highway Administration, here are the counties with the worst bridges in North Carolina.

1. Hoke County

In 2018, Hurricane Florence devastated Hoke County.

©gsagi/ via Getty Images

Nestled just outside of the city of Fayetteville, Hoke County is home to the most amount of poorly built bridges in North Carolina. This means 37 of the 134 bridges are rated poorly, for a total of nearly 30% of bridges in the county, making it the home to the most poorly built bridges in North Carolina. Known for agriculture and being a part of the Fort Liberty military reservation, Hoke County is a primarily rural area.

2. Ashe County

Ashe County is home to many wooden bridges just like this and some are not maintained well.

©James M Davidson/ via Getty Images

Home to picturesque scenery and pristine mountains, Ashe County is a beautiful spot to visit in North Carolina. The county is home to one of the oldest rivers in the world, the New River. Unfortunately, it also is known for being the second worst county in North Carolina for bridge quality. With 63 out of 242 bridges being in poor condition, the county has a problem with infrastructure. That means 26.03% of the bridges in Ashe County are in need of further improvements.  

3. Mitchell County

Mitchell County has harsh winters that take a toll on structures within the county. Pictured is Pisgah National Forest, part of which is in Mitchell County.

©Eifel Kreutz/ via Getty Images

Known as the “mineral city of the world”, Mitchell County has gem deposits, the largest rhododendron garden in the world, and picturesque mountains. Despite being a well-known tourist attraction, the county is also home to a number of poor-quality bridges. The report says 27 of the 125 bridges are listed as being of poor quality. The percentage of poor bridges comes out to 21.60% of the county’s bridges. Bridges such as the Spruce Pine Bridge are currently trying to raise funds so they can be updated to be safer.

4. Madison County

Madison County is home to many historical structures such as bridges and courthouses.

©zimmytws/ via Getty Images

Situated in the verdant Appalachian mountains, Madison County is a beautiful place to visit. Home to hot springs and the pristine French Broad River, Madison County is a landscape full of natural wonders. Despite this, many of the historical bridges are currently listed as being of poor quality. 44 of the 241 bridges are currently in poor condition within the county. That means 18.26% of the county bridges are in poor condition. The Little Ivy Creek Bridge and the Foster Creek Bridge need immediate repairs because of structural deficiencies. 

5. Haywood County

Scenic lakes such as Lake Junaluska populate Haywood County.

©MargaretW/ via Getty Images

Haywood County is the center of the revitalization effort to reintroduce the Great Smoky Mountain elk to the Appalachian Mountains. With pristine natural landscapes, the Appalachian county is a beautiful gem in North Carolina. Unfortunately, the infrastructure for bridges is not as good, with 43 of 282 bridges being poor quality. More specifically, 18.26% of the county’s bridges need repairs. The county has several projects dedicated to fixing this issue, with seven interstate bridges currently under construction.

6. Macon County

Macon County is home to beautiful mountains located in the Nantahala National Forest.

©Eifel Kreutz/ via Getty Images

Home to a plethora of breathtaking waterfalls, Macon County is a beautiful place to visit. However, the county is also home to a large number of bridges in poor condition. The Federal Highway Admisnistration reports that 33 out of 219 bridges are poor quality, coming out to 15.07% of the county’s bridges. Macon County has started repairing these bridges, including one that is from the 1930’s.

7. Wilkes County

This is Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina, USA.

Wilkes County is home to scenic sites like Stone Mountain State Park.

©J K Laws/

The birthplace of NASCAR, Wilkes County is a place of historical importance to North Carolina. The county is home to beautiful scenery, a famous music festival called Merlefest, and is nicknamed the “Moonshine Capital of the World”. Unfortunately, the scenic county also is home to poorly rated bridges. 51 out of the 219 bridges in the county are in poor condition, amounting to 15.04% of the county’s bridges.

8. Yancey County

Mt. Mitchell, Burnsville, North Carolina, Yancey County, Black Mountain Range of the Appalachian Mountains, Northeast of Asheville, Blue Ridge Mountains

Historic cabins and bridges populate several places in Yancey County, including Mt. Mitchell State Park.

©Phillip Sunkel IV/

Home to Mt. Mitchell State Park, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, Yancey County is a beautiful spot to visit. It borders Tennessee and is home to beloved scenic mountains. However, it also has some bridges that are falling into disrepair. 24 out of 161 bridges are of poor quality, more specifically, 14.91% of the county’s bridges.

9. Tyrrell County

Beautiful summer sunset with a pier on the Albemarle Sound in NC on our annual vacation

Tyrrell County borders the Albemarle Sound, the largest freshwater sound in the United States.


This small county is home to a red wolf population, bobcats, and a beautiful ecological landscape. Northeast of the world-famous Outer Banks, this county has the smallest population in North Carolina. It is home to beautiful ecological destinations such as the Aligator River Game Land and Albemarle Sound. Unfortunately, it also has a plethora of poorly rated bridges. 4 of the 27 bridges in the county are in poor condition, meaning 14.81% of the bridges need updating. Currently, there are some efforts to improve the infrastructure of the county.

10. Rockingham County

Melbane Bridge has been abandoned in Rockingham County since it was barricaded in 2003. It was the center of a political controversy and lawsuit in the 1920’s.

©Indy beetle/CC0 – License

A historic town dating back to 1785, Rockingham County is located on the Virginia-North Carolina border. Nicknamed North Carolina’s North Star, the county has been a mainstay throughout history. However, the bridges have not held up as well. 34 out of 240 bridges are currently in poor condition, more specifically, 14.78% of the county’s bridges. The county has experienced an economic decline since 1980 after the factories shut down.

Summary of Counties with the Worst Bridges in North Carolina

RankCountyPercentageNumber of Poor-Quality Bridges
#1Hoke27.61%37 out of 134
#2Ashe26.03%63 out of 242
#3Mitchell21.60%27 out of 125
#4Madison18.26%44 out of 241
#5Haywood15.25%43 out of 282
#6Macon15.07%33 out of 219
#7Wilkes15.04%51 out of 219
#8Yancey14.91%24 out of 161
#9Tyrrell14.81%4 out of 27
#10Rockingham14.78%34 out of 240

The photo featured at the top of this post is © mtilghma/ via Getty Images

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About the Author

I'm an avid animal lover and writer who loves researching new and exciting topics. I grew up soaking up knowledge about animals, nature and the unknown.

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