Construction has begun on the $1 billion majestic bridge that will enhance Southern California's vital link to international trade and dramatically improve an important commuter and trucking corridor at the Port of Long Beach.
In the early morning hours, crews began demolishing the final sections of a U-shaped freeway off-ramp west of the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge. The ramp removal was needed to clear the path for the first sections of an iconic six-lane bridge that will provide a much-needed, taller clearance of 205 feet. This new bridge, which also will feature cable towers reaching 515 feet above the Long Beach skyline, is being built immediately adjacent to and north of the existing four-lane span that has been deemed obsolete.
When completed in 2016, the new bridge will allow a new generation of big cargo ships to reach the inner berths at the Port. The project is part of $4.5 billion in improvements over the next decade aimed at modernizing Port facilities.
“As more big ships enter the Pacific trade routes, the Port of Long Beach must be fully capable to handle these larger vessels with optimum efficiency,” said Port spokesman John Pope. “This new bridge will improve critical infrastructure that will help keep Long Beach competitive in the global markets in the decades ahead.”
The new bridge will come at a time when bigger cargo ships are crossing the world’s oceans – and even bigger vessels are under construction. As one of the world’s busiest seaports, Long Beach continues to see steady growth in cargo volumes as shipping lines sign agreements to expand operations. A few months ago, Long Beach received a ship capable of carrying 14,000 container units–the largest container vessel to visit a North American port.
But when the Gerald Desmond Bridge opened in 1968, cargo ships were about one-sixth the size of what enters the harbor today. The existing bridge height, 155 feet, restricts these new, larger ships from reaching piers within the inner channels.
The new bridge will raise the clearance over the Port’s inner harbor channel an additional 50 feet, giving it the tallest span height for a cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. and easily allowing big ships to pass underneath.
Now that replacement construction is under way, Southern California will begin to see the approximately 8,000-foot-long bridge emerge in phases over the next three years. Photos and video showing the progress will be routinely posted on the new bridge website: http://www.newgdbridge.com/.
At the same time, construction crews will begin to implement carefully designed plans to build a major piece of infrastructure with the least amount of traffic disruptions. For construction updates, traffic information and other details about the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, go to http://www.newgdbridge.com/.
NOTE: Copies of bridge renderings are available at www.newgdbridge.com/pressphotos.