Construction begins on $1 billion bridge linking Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach

New Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach Bridge

KPCC/Wendy Lee

Helicopters are hovering at the height of the new replacement bridge to the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which links the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the 710 freeway. The flight took place at an event marking the start of construction of the new span on January 8, 2013.

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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.


Construction started Tuesday on the replacement to the Gerald Desmond Bridge, a critical piece to improving operations at the Port of Long Beach.

The bridge, which links the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and Terminal Island to Downtown Long Beach and the 710 Freeway, opened in 1968. It isn’t high enough to fit taller, modern ships, which travel between Europe and Asia. The replacement will raise the height by 45 feet to a clearance of 200 feet.

“A new bridge is vital to our port tenants, to our communities and to businesses around the world that depend on us to move their goods,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle. “The new bridge will be a shining beacon for the world to see that we intend to remain a very modern port.”

The $1 billion bridge project will also include observation decks, as well as pedestrian and bike paths. The project will also make the bridge wider for vehicular traffic, with three lanes in each direction, in addition to safety lanes. Officials estimate there will be 3,000 jobs generated a year during its four-year construction.

 The bridge had been worn down so much that there were nets put under it to catch falling concrete.

The bridge’s construction is part of a larger, $4.5 billion project to improve the ports to make them more competitive. The larger project includes figuring out ways to better link the ports shipments to rail lines, providing ships with electrical power while they are docked, rather than using diesel fuel and expanding out one of the piers.

The $1 billion bridge project is funded by the California Department of Transportation, Port of Long Beach, U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority.

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