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AASHTO Journal

Caltrans Breaks Ground on $1 Billion Bridge Project

Officials from the California Department of Transportation joined elected officials, transportation leaders, and community members to break ground on the $1 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project at the Port of Long Beach, a project that will improve speed and efficiency for cargo ships.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge was originally built in 1968 and currently serves as a major link from Terminal Island and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to downtown Long Beach and the 710 Freeway. However, the state is currently working on a $4.5 billion mission to modernize the Port of Long Beach and keep it competitive long-term. The new Gerald Desmond Bridge was identified as a major project within this mission.

The new bridge will raise the clearance over the channel from 155 feet to 200 feet, allowing even the largest cargo ships to come into the inner harbor from the marine highway that carries 15 percent of all goods coming into the country. Caltrans and its partners also say the bridge will improve speed and efficiency for cargo movement and drivers on land, as the current bridge is used by close to 70,000 vehicles each day. Additional features for the new bridge include bike and pedestrian paths and scenic observation decks.

The bridge will also feature twin 50-story-high towers and be one of the tallest cable-stayed bridges in the nation and the first of its kind in the state. Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty praised the community for coming together to make the new bridge a possibility.

"This new bridge will be a monument to the power of partnerships," Dougherty said in a statement. "Everyone stepped up to the plate to make this a reality—the state, the port, the federal government, the local transportation agency, and the construction industry."

The project is scheduled to take roughly four years to complete. The current Gerald Desmond Bridge will remain open through the entire process. Upon the new bridge's completion, the existing bridge will be demolished.

Additional information on the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project is available at A video of the groundbreaking is available at ​​​

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