The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. Photo: C. Leinbach

NAGS HEAD – The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet will undergo an annual checkup Tuesday morning to ensure its continued health.

That checkup on the 53-year-old bridge will begin at 9 a.m. when the N.C. Department of Transportation will conduct a routine mobile scan of the 2.7-mile bridge deck.

Road crews will halt traffic on both ends of the Bonner Bridge for no more than 30 minutes while staff conducts the scan. The bridge will reopen to traffic at 9:30 a.m.

It is normal for a bridge to move, expand, and contract with weather. By performing this scan once a year, as well as after hurricanes and other severe weather, the department’s safety experts are able to monitor and evaluate any abnormal movement of the bridge.

The Bonner Bridge has a series of GPS data points placed along the deck. During the scan, a truck with a GPS reader slowly travels along the bridge, turns around and travels back. While the truck is traveling on the bridge, the reader pinpoints the exact location of each data point. This information will then be compared to data gathered last year to determine if there has been any abnormal movement of the bridge.

In addition to the routine annual deck scans, NCDOT also performs monthly underwater sonar scans to monitor the bridge’s support structure for signs of scour, where sand has drifted away from the pilings.

A project to replace the Bonner Bridge is nearly half-complete. The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in the fall of 2018.

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