At the Port of Long Beach, construction on the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project continues to go as planned.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge has become a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, with nearly 15 percent of the nation’s waterborne cargo trucked across the bridge. It provides a critical link from Terminal Island and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to downtown Long Beach and the 710 Freeway, which funnels cargo on to Los Angeles and Orange counties and beyond to the nation.

The tremendous undertaking to replace the original 1.5-mile-span Desmond Bridge, which opened in 1968, is currently the second-largest construction project in the state. According to the US DOT, the project will support about 3,000 jobs per year and will generate economic activity of more than $2 billion in Southern California.

The old bridge has served the port and city for decades but increased traffic volume and time have taken their toll. Over the years, the structure has begun deteriorating, resulting in workers attaching nets along the bottom of the bridge to catch falling concrete and debris.

The replacement project will result in a new cable-stayed bridge with 205 feet of clearance over the channel, high enough to accommodate the newest generation of larger, more efficient cargo ships. When fully completed, the new bridge will include six traffic lanes and four emergency shoulders, a bike and pedestrian path with scenic overlooks, and more efficient transition ramps and connectors to improve traffic flow, especially among trucks.

“This bridge is vital to freight movement and the nation’s economy,” said federal highway administrator Victor Mendez. “The project will also relieve congestion on the road network that directly serves one of the nation’s busiest ports.”

In December, construction crews completed two 515-foot-tall towers, the centerpieces of the new bridge. With completion of the towers, construction moves on to the next important stage: building the main span of the bridge, which will be built in sections. The innovative design-build project enables the current bridge to remain in use while the new bridge is erected adjacent to it.

Scheduled for completion in 2019, the new bridge will California’s first cable-stayed bridge for vehicular traffic and one of the tallest of its kind in the United States.

“A world-class bridge will serve as a long-term investment in our port and create a new West Coast icon,” said former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster at the onset of the project. “The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project is vital to our city, to our state and to our nation. This new bridge will bring lasting, positive economic impacts across many sectors.”

The $1.47 billion bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port of Long Beach, with funding contributions from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Southern California Partnership for Jobs supports infrastructure investment. It enhances our overall quality of life and supports individuals’ employment and their families’ well-being. We advocated for the passage of SB 1, a new transportation funding source that is becoming ever more critical for California. We continue to work closely with other advocates to seek more funding at the state, regional and local levels.

Source: Signal Tribune