Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) - Work is underway at the Lynnhaven Inlet where crews have begun replacing the Lesner Bridge.
The project has been talked about in Virginia Beach for more than a decade and this summer work finally started.
The project will replace the existing Lesner Bridge with two spans that are capable of handling six lanes of traffic in the future, though the new bridges will only be marked for two lanes of traffic in each direction when they open.
Each span of the bridge will also have a 10-foot wide path for walkers and bicyclists.
So far, crews have already shifted lanes on the westbound approach to the bridge and next week they will begin work to make shifts on the eastbound approach.
That work is necessary to install utilities, temporary retaining walls, grading and infrastructure according to the city.
They are also working hard to maintain traffic across the Lynnhaven Inlet, especially after an emergency lane closure of one eastbound lane caused delays last week.
"Lessons learned from that but we are trying our best to keep the public informed. We will make better use of our dynamic message signs up along Shore Drive to give people a heads up when something like that happens," Project Manager Chris Wojtowicz told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Tuesday.
"Starting October 1, we are going to do some lane closures during the day from the hours of 9 to 3. There isn’t an exact schedule yet – it’s an as needed basis," he continued.
Segments of the new Lesner will be pre-cast at a facility in Portsmouth and then trucked to Virginia Beach.
Crews hope to have the first bridge segment into the new bridge in March 2015.
That will be for the westbound bridge, also known as the north span, which is expected to be complete by November 2015.
"Once we finish the new westbound bridge, we will move all 4 lanes to that new bridge," Wojtowicz said, explaining how traffic will be maintained.
At that point, demolition of the current bridges will take place starting in November 2015 and continuing through March 2016.
"We have to basically take it apart piece by piece. We also have to remove the piles that you see the bridge is on now. Not by cutting them off, but by pulling them out because we don’t want any underwater obstructions when we are all done," Wojtowicz said.
The new Lesner Bridge is expected to be complete in May 2017.