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Under Construction

Gilmerton Bridge Replacement Project


Project Photos

Project at a Glance

Begin Date
November 2009

Est Completion Date
Fall 2014

EST $134 million


Robert A. 'Bud' Morgan, PE, Construction Manager

About the Project

The Gilmerton Bridge Replacement project on Military Highway in the city of Chesapeake will provide a new lift span bridge over the Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River and replace the existing double-leaf bascule bridge that was constructed in 1938. 

The new bridge, 1,908 feet long with a vertical clearance of 35 feet in the closed position and up to 135 feet when the lift span is opened,  will be constructed in phases on the existing Military Highway alignment.  The new bridge width, of 85 feet, will accommodate future widening of Military Highway, from four lanes to six.

November 1, 2009 - Start construction

Winter 2010 - Lane closures and speed reductions begin 

August 2014 - Fixed completion date


Gilmerton Bridge Replacement Project Fact Sheet


Project Updates

To receive information about this project, please send an e-mail to with the subject line: SUBSCRIBE. 

Photos: Set 1 |  Set 2  |  Set 3

Tower Construction Photos: 
Aug 2012 | Jul 2012 | May 2012 | Apr 2012 | Mar 2012 | Jan 2012 
Dec 2011 | Nov 2011 | Oct 2011 | Sept 2011 | May 2011 | Apr 2011

Lift Span Construction Photos: 
Aug 2012 | Jul 2012 | Mar 2012 | Dec 2011 | Aug 2011 | May 2011 

Drilled Shaft  Photos: 
Can and Drill Rig | Oscillator Can | 12 ft. Shaft Rebar Cage | 12 ft. Drilled Shaft & Oscillator 


Construction Schedule

Gilmerton Bridge is closed overnight Sunday through Thursdays from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. the next morning.



News Release

November 14, 2013

Governor McDonnell Opens the New Four-Lane Gilmerton Bridge in Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today the opening of the new four-lane Gilmerton Bridge on Military Highway in Chesapeake, one of the most innovative bridge replacement projects in the state.  The new $140 million vertical lift bridge, which replaced the former double-leaf bascule bridge built in 1938, will ease traffic congestion for the 35,000 vehicles that use the bridge daily and provide taller clearance for ships.

           The governor joined the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) with the city of Chesapeake during a ribbon cutting event held on the bridge’s lift span.  The new bridge opens to traffic at 4:00 p.m.

           “The Gilmerton Bridge Project is a perfect example of transportation dollars being put to excellent use to ease congestion, improve safety and accommodate future growth,” said Governor McDonnell. “Transportation projects like this one are a major component to make Hampton Roads a thriving region. Today’s bridge opening  follows a historic year for transportation, with billions of dollars in new funding invested in road and bridge projects across the state.  This investment allows the commonwealth to rehabilitate aging pavements and structures, as well as expand capacity to improve Virginia’s transportation network.”

           Chesapeake Mayor Alan P. Krasnoff added, “The new Gilmerton Bridge is a key transportation link for the citizens of Chesapeake and the entire Hampton Roads region.  Chesapeake thanks VDOT for their swift work on the Gilmerton Bridge, and especially for keeping traffic moving even as a new bridge was taking shape.”

           The new bridge is 1,908 feet long with a vertical clearance of 35 feet in the closed position and up to 135 feet when the lift span is opened.  Key project benefits:

·         Reduce motorist congestion at Gilmerton Bridge and alternate routes
·         Increase clearance to accommodate marine and motorist traffic with fewer bridge openings
·         Increase lane width to improve traffic flow and accommodate future widening of Military Highway

           In January 2013, the project reached a major milestone with the float-in of the 250-foot, 5.2- million-pound, pre-assembled lift span which was transported seven nautical miles via a barge through the Elizabeth River to the Gilmerton Bridge site where final installation and vertical alignment to the bridge towers occurred. The lift span float-in proved to be a seamless operation with project crews working 24/7 shifts to complete this phase of the project in half of the allotted time.

           Project work will continue on the Gilmerton Bridge as crews construct the fender system and other ancillary work.  The Gilmerton Bridge will resume weeknight closures, Sunday through Thursday, beginning Nov. 17, 2013 through March 2014.

           During the weeknight closures, motorists are encouraged to use the Interstate 64 High Rise Bridge as the preferred alternate route. In addition, the South Norfolk Jordan Bridge in Chesapeake can be used as a tolled alternate route.

           General information about the Gilmerton Bridge Replacement Project can be found at

Gilmerton Bridge Float-In Slideshow and Overview


Time Lapse Video of Float-In January 7, 2013

Gilmerton Bridge lift span on the move

Gilmerton Bridge Project Details

Project Benefits

  • Reduced motorist congestion at Gilmerton Bridge and alternate routes
  • Increased clearance to accommodate marine and motorist traffic with fewer bridge openings
  • Increased lane width to improve traffic flow and accommodate future widening of Military Highway



Project Highlights

  • First-in-the-industry Joint Project Risk Management Plan
  • Among the largest drilled shafts ever constructed using the oscillator method
  • BIM Modeling – 4D program for structural steel detailing and erection
  • Project-dedicated Public Information Officer
  • On schedule for substantial completion and within budget




  • Limited access between railroad and existing bridge
  • Limited construction vibration
  • Restricted channel closures for maritime traffic
  • Coordination with Norfolk Southern Railroad
  • Tower erection over existing roadway
  • Building new bridge over and under existing bridge
  • 14-day closure allowance to set new lift span
  • Tower jacking for possible foundation settlement
  • Demolition of existing bridge under the newly constructed bridge


New Vertical-Lift Span Bridge

Four-lane, vertical-lift bridge: Comprised of a single span which rises vertically, remaining parallel with the bridge deck, to accommodate maritime traffic and then descends to close.

Located on Military Highway, west of Bainbridge Boulevard

Crosses the Southern branch of the Elizabeth River

Lift Span Length: 250 ft.

Open Position:  135 ft.

Close Position: 35 ft.

Bridge width: 85 ft. wide.

Vertical lift towers: 207 ft. tall each ; include 1,009 steel members, each 
ranging from 5,000 pounds to 150,000 lbs.


Construction Facts

Eight 12-ft.-diameter drilled shafts, among the largest in diameter ever constructed in the U.S. using the oscillator method with temporary casing

Total length of drill shafts: 124 ft.

10 million pounds of structural steel

3.1 million pounds of reinforcing steel

30,000 cubic yards of concrete

7,000 cubic yards of structural fill

4,500 linear feet of drainage pipe

Four 15-ft. high retaining walls

Eight 15-ft.-diameter sheaves

200 different assembly lots of bolts


Project Timeline

Phase I: Commencement of project:  November 2009

Shift existing four-lane traffic to two-lane traffic
Install 12-foot drill shafts
Construct two southbound lanes, approach spans, lift span and towers
Install mechanical and electrical lift system

Phase II:  January 2013

Float-in of lift span
Connection of span to towers
Shift traffic to new bridge, southside lanes

Phase III:  Fall 2013

Demolition of existing bridge
Construct north-side approaches
Construct new fender system
Open all travel lanes

Final Completion: January 2014


Rush Hour Restrictions:
    During all phases of construction, attention will be given to minimizing impacts to the motoring public, including during peak travel periods such as morning and afternoon rush hours.

In the News

Modern Steel, January 2013

"Widening the Gap"


ASCE Civil Engineering Magazine, December 2013

"Bascule Bridge Constructed Over Existing Crossing"


Construction Management Team

Virginia Department of Transportation
James Utterback, P.M.P., District Administrator
Mark Cacamis, P.E., State Construction Engineer
Bud Morgan, P.E., Area Construction Engineer
Ricardo Correa, P.E., Design Manager
Ashton Lawler, P,E., State Structures and Bridge Division
Mitch Layton, Construction Manager


Construction, Engineering & Inspection

Parsons Brinckerhoff (Lead)

Hardesty and Hanover

McDonough Bolyard Peck, Inc.


Seventh Point 


Engineer of Record

Modjeski and Masters – Moveable Bridge

Gannett Fleming – Approach Bridges


General Contractor

PCL Civil Construction, Inc.


Major Subcontractors

EV Williams Inc.

McLean Contracting

DT Read

Edwards Electric





Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why do you have to close the bridge overnight during the tower construction phase?
Crews will be assembling the towers over the existing Route 13 Gilmerton Bridge.  These assembly activities include lifting steel beams from large cranes over the roadway, putting them in place and connecting them.  These activities will be take place about 200 feet off of the ground and over the existing roadway.  Traffic cannot be safely maintained while these activities are underway.

Q.  How long will the bridge be closed?
During the tower construction phase, the bridge will close Sunday through Thursday, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly. These overnight bridge closures are required throughout this phase of construction.

Q.  Is there a detour or alternate route?
A:  Motorists are encouraged to use the I-64 High Rise Bridge or the 
I-264 Downtown Tunnel as an alternate route during overnight bridge closures.  

Q: Why is this project important to our region and the city of Chesapeake?
The Gilmerton Bridge is a vital transportation route for over 35,000 motorists per day. The bridge replacement project will support the future widening of Military Highway and has many features to ease traffic congestion and maritime movement in Hampton Roads, for many years to come.

Q: What are the key features of construction and proposed milestone dates?
The bridge replacement project will be reconstructed in three phases. First, the contractor will construct the eastbound side of the bridge, which should be complete in approximately two years.  Motorists will be limited to one lane in each direction and shifted to the westbound lanes of the bridge during this Phase.  During Phase Two, the bridge will be closed for 14 days to allow for the new bridge to be floated in via barge. Finally, during Phase Three, the contractor will construct the westbound lanes of the bridge, shifting motorists to the east for this final two years of construction.

Q: Why is VDOT replacing the Gilmerton Bridge?
The Gilmerton Bridge was constructed in 1938 as a twin bascule span, four-lane bridge.  In service for more than 70 years, this type of bridge system has reached its life expectancy. 

The new 1,908 foot bridge will have a vertical clearance of 35 feet in the closed position, compared to the existing 11-foot clearance. The project will be constructed on the existing Military Highway alignment and will provide a bridge width of 85 feet to accommodate future widening of Military Highway from four lanes to six lanes. Ultimately, the new bridge will be wider to accommodate traffic congestion and taller for enhanced maritime access leading to fewer annual bridge lifts.

Q: When will the project be completed?
The project is scheduled to be completed in January 2014.

Q: What will the new bridge look like?
The existing Gilmerton Bridge is a twin bascule bridge system which consists of two spans, or leaves, which meet in the middle and swing up horizontally over the channel to open. The new bridge is a lift span bridge, which elevates up to accommodate maritime traffic, and then descends to close.

Q: Why does the bridge take so long to build?
The replacement bridge will take approximately three years to build while remaining open to vehicular traffic. Although construction of the span will take time, the project team coordinated the construction schedule to significantly less impact on the motoring public.

Q: I would like to have a Gilmerton Bridge presentation at my business, association or civic organization meeting.  How can I schedule this?
Contact the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Office of Public Affairs to schedule a presentation.  Call 757-322-0616 or email Lynn Polizos.  


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Page last modified: March 26, 2014