The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, California, US has approved a US$ 1.1 billion plan to replace the 42-year old Gerald Desmond Bridge.
The new bridge will improve traffic flow, safety and navigation, create jobs and generate US$ 2 billion for the local economy, according to a statement by the Board.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge, which was completed in 1968, is a vital route for cargo into the country, carrying about 15% of the US's goods. It is also a critical link for local commuters, who make up about 75% of bridge traffic (68000 vehicles per day), serving as a connection between Long Beach and San Pedro, and between Orange County and western Los Angeles County.
The old bridge is a steel tied-arch truss bridge, is seismically deficient, is 156 ft (47.5 m) above the navigation channel with a 5.5 to 6% grade. It carries just four through-traffic lanes with no shoulders and is suffering concrete deterioration.
The new bridge would have three traffic lanes plus emergency lanes in both directions, making it safer and better able to accommodate cars and trucks on a major Southern California commuting route. It would also be higher to allow for the latest generation of "green" cargo ships to pass underneath, said a statement by the Board.
In addition, said the Board, construction of the new bridge would create up to 4000 jobs per year for five-to-six years.
Commenting on the decision, Port executive director Richard D. Steinke, said, "The bridge is obsolete and deteriorating. The new bridge will add lanes for improved traffic flow and dedicated safety lanes to keep traffic moving if there's a breakdown or accident."
The proposed bridge would include:
- Three lanes in each direction for improved traffic flow.
- Emergency lanes on both sides to reduce traffic delays and safety hazards from accidents and vehicle breakdowns.
- A 200-ft (61 m) vertical clearance that would accommodate newer, "greener" vessels that can plug into clean, electric shore power.
- A reduction in the bridge's steep grades, for further improvements to traffic flow.
Additional proposed improvements include reconstruction of the Terminal Island East Interchange and the I-710/Gerald Desmond Bridge Interchange