Part of Shore Drive to close next week for Lesner Bridge work

Motorists can use Virginia Beach Boulevard as a detour during scheduled work hours.
Motorists can use Virginia Beach Boulevard as a detour during scheduled work hours. (Photo courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — A section of one of Virginia Beach’s busiest roadways will close at night next week as crews move a gantry crane for additional construction to replace the Lesner Bridge.

From Monday to Wednesday, Shore Drive between East Stratford Street and Vista Circle will close from midnight to 4 a.m.

“We are about to enter a very exciting phase of this project,” Christopher Wojtowicz, senior project manager, said. “We’re about ready to move this gantry from the north side to the south side … we can’t start construction of the eastbound bridge until we get that thing moved.”

Scheduled work dates are subject to change depending on the weather and motorists are advised to use Virginia Beach Boulevard as a detour while the bridge is closed. Emergency vehicles will still have access to the Lesner Bridge during the late night work hours, according to a city news release.

Christopher Wojtowicz, senior project manager, gives city council a Lesner Bridge replacement project update Tuesday. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

After weighing different options to move the crane, the city decided it would be best to “walk” it using a winch and cable system. The crane will move at about 20-feet per hour.

“When people get up for work Monday morning, it’s going to look like nothing changed,” Wojtowicz said. “When they get up to go to work on Tuesday morning, they’re going to see two girders across the bridge.”

By Wednesday, Wojtowicz said residents will notice the crane in a new position, and that the girders will be gone by Thursday.

Council member James Wood asked Wojtowicz about the project’s original deadline.

“The original completion date was June of this year,” Wojtowicz said. “There’s only about 30 days worth of weather delays on this project right now, so [the contractor] is roughly 240 days behind contract schedule at the rate of about $3,100 a day.”

Wojtowicz said the contractor will be on notice beginning in July.

The $116-million project is about 70 percent complete with a completion date scheduled for May 2018, Wojtowicz said.

It’s expected to feature a scenic overlook with a locally-inspired art sculpture, wider lanes, lights and 10-foot walkways each side.

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