Long Beach on the verge of replacing the Gerald Desmond Bridge

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David McNew/Getty Images

A truck loads up with imported lumber near Long Beach's Gerald Desmond Bridge on March 29, 2002. A new $1 billion project will replace the now 42-year-old bridge. It is expected to rise alongside the existing one and be ready for traffic in six years.

Before the decade is over, harbor officials say, a new $1 billion bridge will link the Port of Long Beach with the city’s downtown. Port and city officials say they hope to start construction in less than two years.

Those officials have green-lighted a process to design and build a new span that would replace the 42-year-old Gerald Desmond Bridge. It’s a key commercial link — one shipping organization figures that 15 percent of this country’s import and export goods cross that bridge.

Time and traffic have so worn it down that crews slung nets beneath its roadbed to catch crumbling concrete. The new bridge would include three lanes of traffic in each direction to handle more cars and big rigs. It also will rise higher to allow larger ships below its span, and will connect more easily to the 710 Freeway.

The city of Long Beach, CalTrans, Los Angeles County and federal money will pay for the new bridge project. Officials predict that it’ll generate 4,000 construction jobs a year for five years. They hope the new bridge will rise alongside the existing one, and be ready to take on traffic in about six years.

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