‘A work of engineering art’: Lesner Bridge nears completion

The bridge cost $115 million and took more than 12 years to design and construct

Rendering of the new Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach slated to be complete by December (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
Rendering of the new Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach, slated to be complete by December (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The new Lesner Bridge is partially opened and slated to be completed by December, the city’s Director of Public Works Mark Johnson said during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

The new bridge includes widened lanes, a scenic overlook with a public art installation, improved pedestrian access, wide outer lanes to accommodate bike traffic, shoulder lanes on both sides, and a 150-foot-wide clearing beneath the bridge — an increase from the old bridge’s 90-foot clearing.

Johnson listed a serious of facts surrounding the history and construction of the Lesner Bridge.

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Facts about Lesner Bridge construction

  • There are 55 bridges in Virginia Beach.
  • According to a 2013 report from the Army Corps of Engineers, three of those bridges needed to be replaced; the Laskin Road, Sandbridge, and Lesner bridges.
  • The Lesner bridge project cost $115 million — $22 million from the city and $93 million from state and federal sources.
  • Parts of the old bridge ended up in Cabbage Patch Artificial Reef off the Eastern Shore, 18 miles away. More than 30,000 tons of concrete from the old bridge are at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Design of bridge began in 2006; request for proposals was advertised by city in 2013.
  • Lifespan of the bridge is 100 years.
  • The project has employed 24 contractors and subcontractors, and used approximately:
    • 40,500 tons of concrete
    • 1,000 tons of reinforced steel
    • 262 miles of steel tensioning strands
The image on the left shows the walking path as people approached the old Lesner Bridge; on the right is the improved sidewalk that traverses the nearly-completed bridge Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)
The image on the left shows the walking path as people approached the old Lesner Bridge; on the right is the improved sidewalk that traverses the nearly-completed bridge (Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the City of Virginia Beach)

Related story: Canoes on your drive home: Lesner Bridge welcomes new public art

The eastbound lanes of the old Lesner Bridge were completed in 1958 and the westbound lanes were completed in 1967, according to the city website.

Lesner Bridge was named after John A. Lesner, a Democratic Virginia state senator who represented the area from 1908 to 1916 and from 1923 until his death in 1938.

The Lesner Bridge project — and its pedestrian and bike-friendly features — is central to the city’s Shore Drive Corridor Plan, a document that lays out its vision for the re-configuring and renovation of the city’s northern-most highway.

Johnson called the new Lesner Bridge “a work of engineering art” that, along with Town Center’s skyline, will “define this city” to those flying in over the Chesapeake Bay

Johnson said a ribbon cutting for Lesner Bridge will take place in November.

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