VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – For the last month, crews have been working to demolish the old Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach. But demolishing the bridge may not happen the way you’d expect.
Crews are not using explosives. Instead, they have a very specific process that uses saws. It’s destruction with a purpose.
“It’s been really exciting,” said Robert Bennett, a project engineer who has been working on the Lesner Bridge for more than two years. “To see the precast segment construction has really been the highlight of my career.
You may not share the same enthusiasm for a bridge project, but the method of demolition certainly catches the eye.
Crews use diamond-tipped circular saws that cut the bridge into rectangles. Those eight by 100 feet rectangles are then placed on barges.
Bennett says explosives would have made the actual demolition easier, but it would have meant more clean up. Plus, their removal method means the old bridge can be put to good use.
“Each time a barge goes out, it’ll take about 800 tons of material and then dump it into a pre-described location,” said Bennett.
That predetermined location is the Cabbage Patch Reef. It’s an artificial reef created by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that uses old construction materials.
Bennett said, “It’s great for the environment and it reduces the disposal costs for the contractor.”
Part of the bridge is also headed to Virginia Tech. Researches will analyze different parts of the bridge, like concrete cores and deck cores.
“Several of the beams that were removed were specifically chosen by the Virginia Research Council and they’re going to have testing done on those beams,” said Bennett.
Bennett says the demolition is happening in two places on the bridge. That gives crews the ability to start construction on the new bridge, even as the demolition is ongoing.