Engineers are using lasers to test new Outer Banks bridge

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (AP) — Engineers are shooting trillions of laser beams at a new bridge on North Carolina's Outer Banks to make sure it will withstand the harsh elements of the Atlantic coast.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Sunday that the tests are being done on the $252 million Marc Basnight Bridge. It carries N.C. 12 over Oregon Inlet and connects the northern Outer Banks to Hatteras Island.

Expansion and contraction from heat and cold can have the most impact on a bridge. One thing engineers don’t want the bridge to do is lean one way or another.

Pablo Hernandez, a bridge engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation told the Pilot that the "bridge is an infant in its life. We’re making sure it’s behaving according to its design.”

The concrete span replaced the old Bonner Bridge.

Some people had been afraid to ride over the aging Bonner Bridge out of fear that it would topple. The old span endured dozens of hurricanes and winter storms.

Pieces of concrete sometimes fell into the water, and rusting reinforcement steel was exposed. The old bridge needed one repair after another in its final years.