RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Barges and heavy equipment soon will move into the Oregon Inlet as the N.C. Department of Transportation begins pile testing for a replacement for the Bonner Bridge.
Testing for the large columns positioned in the earth to support a bridge is necessary before construction can begin. Tests will confirm the engineer's estimates of how much weight the piles can bear. The average bridge piling supports about 500,000 pounds.
Two barges loaded with material and equipment will travel from Chesapeake, Va., when weather permits.
The Bonner bridge was designed to last 30 years when it was built in 1963. It handles about 2 million cars annually.
DOT expects to complete pile-testing by mid-January. Officials expect to begin construction of the bridge in early 2013, depending on the results of a lawsuit.