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February 16, 2015

Bayfront Advisory Committee looking for new names for Lesner Bridge

new Lesner Bridge


The Bayfront Advisory Committee (BAC) announces the details of its bridge naming survey. A website has been set up for residents to register their choice of retaining the name “Lesner Bridge”, or to submit a name of their choosing. A history of the Lesner Bridge is provided with this release.

The website will become active on January 15th and remain active until February 28th. To access the website go to:

Once there, choose “Retain Lesner” or write in your choice of name and press “Enter.” No registration is necessary. The choice will be automatically recorded for later tally and analysis. The results will be submitted to City Council for their choice which will then be submitted to Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for final approval.

For additional information contact:

Scott Ayers, Communications Subcommittee Chairman

Faith Christie, Deputy Editor, Bayfront Vision Newsletter

Norm Carrick, Editor, Bayfront Vision Newsletter

A New Name for a New Bridge?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. William Shakespeare

There is a move afoot to re-name the new and better bridge under construction where the Lynnhaven River and Chesapeake Bay meet. Here is some history on how the bridge got its current name – the John A. Lesner Bridge.

The first bridge over the site was an electric rail trestle bridge built in 1908 by the Chesapeake Transit Company. This bridge allowed travel between Norfolk and Cape Henry. Several resorts and residential neighborhoods sprang up around the train stops, including Ocean Park, Seaside Park, and Chesapeake Beach.

The current vehicular bridge, constructed in 1928 and re-built in 1958, is named for State Senator John A. Lesner. Senator Lesner was born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia. During his civil servant career he served in many positions but championed improving the state highways and bridges. The General Assembly voted in 1928 to name the bridge after Senator Lesner for his efforts. It should be noted that the Princess Anne County Board of Supervisors went on the record as preferring a Princess Anne name such as Lynnhaven.

But did you know that when the English explored here in 1607 there was no opening at the Lynnhaven River and Chesapeake Bay? The coastline was continuous along the Bay to Little Creek inlet. It wasn’t until the middle 1600’s that some farmers and fishermen trenched the area to provide an opening to the river. Legend has it that a terrible storm blew in and widened the opening to what it is today.

Also at one time there was a ferry that ran across the Lynnhaven River from Ferry Point to Great Neck Point. Ferry Plantation got its name in 1642 when the Ferry Boat Service ran by Savill Gaskin ran the Lynnhaven waterway. Cannons were used to signal the ferry, which had 11 total stops along the river. Ferries plied the river and delivered mail to Ferry Plantation, which served as the area post office. Post office bars are still on two of the old home’s windows.

And there was a plan in 1735 to build a log bridge across the Lynnhaven from Ferry Point to Little Neck, now Kings Grant area. Posts of the Old Cypress Bridge still exist in the waters near Ferry Plantation.

What is in a name? Should the bridge be named after a person, land area, or body of water?

Submitted by Faith Christie

Sources: Princess Anne County and Virginia Beach by Stephen Mansfield; The Beach by the Virginia Beach Public Library; Virginia Beach Jewel Resort of the Atlantic by Amy Waters Yarinske; Virginian Pilot;



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