From the project manager in response to an email:
Thank you for your attached letter regarding the Lesner Bridge. We are very excited about this project and eager to begin the work next spring.
As you noted in your letter, there are going to be some impacts to the live oaks associated with this project. We do have to remove approximately 12 live oaks to accommodate the new bridge. We have already removed some of these trees with the gas line that was bored under the Lynnhaven Inlet (on the north side of the existing bridges). This work was completed several weeks ago. The remaining trees will be removed when construction begins next spring.
We do recognize that the live oaks are an important natural resource in this area. This point was made clear during the public meetings that were held for this project. In order to mitigate the loss of these trees, we are currently planning to install 25 new live oaks with the project—this equates to a 2:1 replacement ratio. These trees have been incorporated with the overall landscaping plan to ensure that they have the best opportunity for survival in this harsh environment.
With regards to relocating or transplanting the existing trees, I did speak with our Operations staff at Parks & Recreation. They take care of the landscaping maintenance throughout the City. Their experience with transplanting live oaks has not be very positive in this area. Specifically, they noted the following issues:
1. The soil is too sandy for live oaks
2. The live oak root systems are not compact, which makes transplanting difficult
3. The salt environment is harsh on trees in this area
Since our Parks & Recreation staff maintain the landscaping in this area, they do have a lot of firsthand knowledge regarding the survival rate for certain species. We try to incorporate this real world information into our landscaping designs so we can provide the best planting plan for each project. Based on this information, we are not planning to relocate any existing live oaks at this time.
If you have any further questions or need more information, please let me know. Thank you for your time and interest in this project.
David S. Jarman, P.E.
Transportation Project Management Supervisor
Department of Public Works
City of Virgina Beach