RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Work is about to begin on two projects to repair the aging Bonner Bridge to keep it open as the sole land link between the North Carolina Outer Banks and the mainland.

The N.C. Department of Transportation announced Friday that it will begin the first of two additional repair projects this fall. The two projects total $2 million.

In addition, crews will be conducting surveys of the bridge as part of the department's monitoring plan.

Earlier this week a four-foot-long piece of concrete fell from underneath the bridge in one of the areas that will be repaired. Currently, the Bonner Bridge remains safe for travel.

On Monday, a federal judge approved plans for a parallel span to replace the 50-year-old bridge.

Beginning Monday, Sept. 23, NCDOT will close a one-lane section of the bridge between a half-mile and mile-long, so crews with Coastal Gunite Construction Co. of Cambridge, Md. can access girders and the underside of the bridge deck to make concrete repairs. As a part of this $388,910 project, crews will apply concrete patches to areas of the bridge to protect exposed steel. These areas were identified for priority maintenance during the last regular two-year inspection of the bridge that took place in 2012.

The second repair project, totaling $1.4 million, includes repairs to the supplemental supports of the bridge and is scheduled to begin later this month.

AP-WF-09-20-13 1704GMT

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