Caltrans • Metro • Port of Long Beach • US Department of Transportation

Fact Sheet

An artist’s rendering shows the preliminary design of a new six-lane, cable-stayed bridge that will replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge.


he Gerald Desmond Bridge has become a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, with nearly 15 percent of the nation’s waterborne cargo trucked across the bridge. It is a critical access route for the Port of Long Beach, downtown Long Beach and surrounding communities. But the Desmond Bridge, which opened in 1968, is nearing the end of its intended lifespan. It was not designed to handle today’s traffic volumes. With that in mind, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Port of Long Beach have begun a project to replace the Desmond Bridge. The project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port, with funding also from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

The aging Gerald Desmond Bridge faces traffic and maintenance issues. The new bridge will be designed to meet the region’s transportation and cargo-movement needs for many years to come. Construction of the new bridge is expected to take four years, starting in early 2013. Once the new bridge is completed and open, the old bridge will be taken down. The new bridge will be built with a cable-stayed design. With 200 feet of clearance over the water, the new bridge will be high enough to accommodate the newest generation of the most-efficient cargo ships. And with three lanes in each direction plus safety lanes, it will be wider and better able to serve the thousands of cars and trucks that use the bridge each day. (continued on back)

updated 5.18.12

Officials gather at a kickoff event to launch the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project. The route is an important one. The Desmond Bridge has been designated as a National Highway System Intermodal Connector Route and part of the Federal Strategic Highway Network. It is a critical structure serving the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the City of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange counties and the nation. While the old bridge is safe for commuters today, it is rapidly deteriorating. Even with costly maintenance, the old bridge cannot be sustained. • Deteriorating physical condition. Protective netting has been installed under sections of the bridge to stop falling pieces of concrete from hitting workers, the ground or waterways below.

Economic Impact
The bridge project will generate about 4,000 jobs a year for the five years of building the new bridge and taking the old one down.

Replacement Project
The new bridge will 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-foot vertical clearance that would accommodate newer, “greener” vessels. • A reduction in the bridge’s steep grades, for further improvements to traffic flow. Additional improvements include reconstruction of the Terminal Island East Interchange and the I-710/Gerald Desmond Bridge Interchange. Plans and cost estimates for a bikeway will also be incorporated into the design.

Next Steps
Using the “design-build” process, Caltrans and the Port in September 2011 issued a Request for Proposals to a group of pre-qualified engineeringconstruction teams. Three designbuild proposals were submitted by the March 2, 2012 deadline. The designbuild method combines both design and construction into one contract to expedite the construction process and potentially reduce project costs. The Project Selection Committee, led by Caltrans, the Port and Metro, recommended the proposal by the joint venture team of Shimmick Construction, FCC Construction and Impregilo S.p.A., as the “best value” proposal. The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in May 2012 issued a notice of intent to contract with the team. A board decision on awarding the contract is expected by early July 2012. Construction would likely begin in mid-2013.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge has several critical operational issues and maintenance challenges: • Traffic has exceeded capacity. The bridge now handles as many as 68,000 vehicle trips a day and about 18 million trips a year. Regional commuter traffic accounts for about 75 percent of bridge traffic. • Very low ratings by Caltrans inspectors. The bridge received a low “sufficiency rating” by Caltrans, 48 out of 100. The bridge received low marks in inspections of the concrete decks and superstructure.

For more information about this project, visit