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Steel Shots: A Floating Bridge Lift
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 20, 2012 at 2:54 PM.


The Henry G. Gilmerton Bridge in Chesapeake, Va., is about to get wider. The original bascule span is being replaced this September with a vertical lift span, which will be floated into place. Photo: Courtesy of Modjeski and Masters


On September 5, the $135-million Henry G. Gilmerton bridge replacement project will reach a major milestone when the lift span is floated into place. Shortly thereafter, the new steel bridge will become fully operational to both highway and waterway traffic. The replacement of the original bascule span with the vertical lift span is considered the “crown jewel” for a project that has been ongoing for nearly 15 years.


The new Gilmerton Bridge will measure 1,908 ft long and 85 ft wide and accommodate up to six lanes of traffic, expanded from four. The 250-ft-long lift span will provide a 135-ft vertical clearance for ocean-going vessels. The replacement project had to be carefully executed so as not to impact the structure or foundation of a nearby rail bridge, which is about 30 ft from the Gilmerton bridge.


The project began in 1998 and was originated to ease traffic congestion, accommodate future highway expansion and provide clearance for today’s modern maritime ships. Following the replacement of the lift span, PCL, the project contractor, will finalize the approach for the new bridge before it is expected to reach completion in winter 2014.


“Floating in the bridge’s lift span is like reaching the summit of an important project that has been underway for many years,” said Lance Borden, senior associate at Modjeski and Masters. “A project of this complexity requires close collaboration with the contractor and bridge owner to ensure it is executed as seamlessly as possible. We are honored to be part of the Gilmerton Bridge replacement project, which is vital to future growth of the region.”


The original Gilmerton Bridge, owned by the City of Chesapeake, is part of the Military Highway, a four-lane roadway built in the South Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia during World War II. The bridge was completed during that time and today carries approximately 35,000 motorists daily via U.S. Highway 13 and U.S. Highway 460.

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