The bridge on Cape Jellison Road between Mill Pond and Stockton Harbor makes a horrible sound when cars drive over it. A sign at the north end cautions of a 12-ton weight limit, beyond which a vehicle would presumably tumble through the deck into the reversing falls of the tidal inlet.

The National Bridge Inventory, a report drawn from Federal Highway Administration statistics, deemed the bridge just 25-percent structurally sufficient. That result was published by The Washington Post under the headline: "How many structurally deficient bridges are in your county?"

The article and interactive map of NBI data accounts for 92 bridges in Waldo County, of which 68 were deemed good and another 12 "functionally obsolete," which typically means too narrow for current traffic flow.

A sufficiency rating was given to each of the sub-par bridges, with lower percentages indicating worse condition. Several of the structurally deficient bridges in Waldo County ranked more than 90-percent sufficient, while the worst cases were listed in the mid-20-percent-sufficient range.

The article concluded that 13 percent of the county's bridges are structurally deficient. Which sounds bad.

However, much of the data used in the article was either outdated or incomplete.

The Republican Journal found that the worst cases on the Post's interactive map already have been rehabilitated, replaced, abandoned, or are slated for work within the year.

A brook crossing on Kingdom Road in Montville (16.9-percent sufficiency rating) was replaced with a culvert last summer, according to Steve Lucas, the town's road commissioner.

Several years ago, Montville fixed another low-ranking bridge over the Sheepscot River on Peavey Town Road, replacing the deteriorated wooden deck, adding structural I-beams and fixing the end walls, Lucas said.

"So they should be all good now," he said. The bridge, however, still made it onto The Washington Post's map.

A bridge on Center Road in Monroe listed in the report as 24.6-percent sufficient has been closed for seven to 10 years, according to town officials, who said the town has no plans to repair or reopen it. On Google Maps, the location of the bridge appears as an impassable gap between North Center Road and South Center Road.

There are roughly 200 town-owned bridges in Maine, according to Jim Foster, bridge management engineer for Maine Department of Transportation. These typically have very low levels of traffic or are located on short cuts. As such, MDOT doesn't bother with them.

The department's work plan counts 175 bridges in Waldo County, which is 83 more than The Washington Post map. To make matters more confusing, the Post's map includes town-owned bridges. The reason for the disparity can be chalked up to the fact that Federal Highway Administration statistics reflect only bridges that might need federal funding for repairs.

Perhaps more importantly, a structurally deficient bridge is not a bridge on the verge of collapse.

"The sound of it is somewhat misleading," Foster said. "Really … it has to do with how they spend the money."

A bridge that is structurally deficient — meaning a major component needs replacement — is eligible for federal matching funds, Foster said. Accordingly, new and recently repaired bridges aren't counted.

While the Federal Highway Administration figures come partly from the state, Foster said the state doesn't approach bridge repairs in the way the administration's list would suggest.

Foster said MDOT refers to some reports, including The American Society of Civil Engineers' Infrastructure Report Cards. Additionally, department engineers use computer modeling that virtually "deteriorates the components of the bridge over time."

The system allows them to run various funding scenarios to project how much money the department will need to maintain or improve its bridges, he said. Ultimately, they draw up a shortlist of candidates for repairs or replacement and visit them in person.

"The priority is when," Foster said. "When do we need to get to the bridge."

MDOT has some of the lowest-rated Waldo County bridges in its sights. The Cape Jellison Road bridge is slated for replacement this year at a cost of $400,000. The project goes out to bid in April.

The department also earmarked $1.1 million to replace the bridge over Goose River on Searsport Avenue in Belfast and $150,000 for deck replacement on a small bridge on Shepard Road just south of Route 137. Both appear on the NBI list at 56.9-percent and 63.9-percent sufficient, respectively.

So, how are our bridges?

"All the bridges are safe," Foster said. "Some are posted for weight and that's to ensure safety."

Other bridge repairs on the MDOT 2017-2019 work plan:

Frankfort: $300,000 for bridge deck replacement, Stream Road, Lord Bridge over Marsh Stream, 0.03 miles west of Marsh Stream Road.

Monroe: $155,000 for bridge and structural maintenance, repairing curb and wingwall on Cook Bridge, which carries Back Brooks Road over Marsh Stream, 0.18 miles west of Route 141 (Swan Lake Avenue).

Palermo: $250,000 for bridge wearing surface replacement, Route 3 Sheepscot Bridge over the Sheepscot River, 0.15 miles east of Level Hill Road.

Thorndike: $200,000 for bridge painting, Route 220, Sayward Bridge over Half Moon Stream.

Waldo: $200,000 for bridge culvert rehabilitation, Birches Road Paul Bridge over Passagassawakeag River, 0.66 miles north of Cross Lane.