In the mornings, the newly opened Lesner Bridge across Lynnhaven Inlet in Virginia Beach is the perfect place for an incline workout, as runners, walkers and cyclists use the wide sidewalks on either sides of the twin spans. In the evenings, streetlights illuminate the passage for vehicles overhead while brilliant shades of blue, magenta and white illuminate the abutments below.

This is Virginia Beach’s signature bridge, and it shows. The crossing near the shore of the Chesapeake Bay has become a destination for its surrounding communities, just as it stands as one of the most important projects in RS&H’s history.

RS&H provided construction, engineering and inspection (CEI) services on the Lesner Bridge Replacement for the City of Virginia Beach. When RS&H won the CEI contract in 2013, it was among the first major construction management projects for the firm outside the state of Florida, and the practice’s biggest contract at the time. It also represented an expansion of our services in to a brand new region and a brand new market.

“The Lesner Bridge was a huge deal for Virginia Beach, and it was a huge deal for us on several levels,” said RS&H Vice President and Virginia-East Area Leader Tim Barry.

Twin Segmental Bridges Take Shape

The pair of 1,500-foot, pre-cast, post-tensioned segmental bridges provide a 45-foot clearance over the inlet. This includes a total of ten spans, and each bridge carries two 12-foot travel lanes with plenty of shoulder space and a pair of 10-foot multiuse paths separated by a barrier wall – all of which are vast improvements from the existing corridor.

The bridges boast high-quality materials including corrosion-resistant reinforcing (CRR) steel and 8,000-psi concrete. RS&H worked with the contractor to approve a mix design that both achieves this strength and allowed for proper workability during construction. These high quality materials were required to achieve a bridge concept with a 100-year service life, which was an important part of the project development.

The bridges also include enhanced features such as decorative lighting, signalization, and landscaping. The completed bridges provide access over the Lynnhaven Inlet via Shore Drive, a picturesque route along the Chesapeake Bay.

Full Transparency and Collaboration

RS&H managed the construction process for the City of Virginia Beach, including inspection, materials testing, and project controls. RS&H also implemented a fully customizable Sharepoint site for all project documentation and correspondence. This site provided the City of Virginia Beach with full transparency into the project and helped foster collaboration and hold stakeholders accountable.

RS&H also worked regularly with multiple project stakeholders including the city, utility providers, local homeowners, condominium associations, parks, boaters, the U.S. Armed Forces, Virginia Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and multiple permitting agencies to keep the project moving forward.

“We did close to 100 tours with local agencies and public groups,” Barry said. “The interest in this project was unbelievable, and rightfully so. Overall, people love the new bridge.”

A Landmark Project

Today, RS&H provides CEI services across the country, and the firm’s Transportation Construction Management Practice has grown to become the second largest practice in the firm. The Lesner Bridge project proved to be a big building block for the Practice’s success.

“We realized a few years ago that our CEI work – especially our segmental bridge expertise – works across markets,” Barry said. “But this project was an entirely different market, different region for us, and it taught us to adapt. It really confirmed to us that we are doing something right.”

Learn more about our bridge projects here.

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About the author

Joe VanHoose
Joe VanHoose
Joe is a storyteller with more than a decade of experience in media relations, with particular specialty in writing and promoting. He can be reached at joe.vanhoose@rsandh.com.