Monday, March 7, 2011

Long Beach Port Selects Four Firms Eligible to Build New Bridge

After more than a decade of planning, the posibility of a replacement for the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach is quickly moving toward reality.

On Friday, port officials announced that four teams of engineering and construction firms have been deemed eligible to compete for the contract to design and build the $950 million structure.

With the help of federal, state and local funds, port officials plan to demolish the current bridge, which serves as a main ingress and egress route for the port's Terminal Island facilities, and replace it with a new, six-lane, cable-stayed span adjacent to the current bridge site.

The $950-million project is a joint effort of the California Department of Transportation and the Port of Long Beach, along with the US Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The four firms were selected by a group of Caltrans, Port and MTA officials from a field of seven firms that submitted qualifications earlier this year. Determinations were based on each firm's breadth of experience, personnel, resources and other key factors.

"To build the best bridge possible, we sought out the best firms from around the world," said Doug Thiessen, the port’s Managing Director of Engineering. “We had a very good response. We look forward to working closely with these four finalists during the final key phase of the selection process.”

The four teams are:
  • Dragados USA, Inc. (CC Myers, Inc., Dragados USA, Inc., Figg Bridge Engineers, Inc., Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.).
  • Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. (Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., T.Y. Lin International).
  • Shimmick Construction Company Inc. (Shimmick Construction Company, Inc., FCC Construction S.A./Impregilo S.p.A., Arup/Biggs Cardosa).
  • Skanska (Skanska/Traylor/Massman, Buckland & Taylor Ltd., CH2M HILL Engineers, Inc.).
Caltrans and the port are currently preparing a request for proposals for the design and construction of the new bridge, ramp connectors and a bicycle/pedestrian path. The four teams will be invited to submit their proposals in late 2011, and construction could begin in 2012.

Built in 1968, the Gerald Desmond Bridge is outdated and, while deemed safe for commuters to travel on, it is increasingly likely that Caltrans inspectors could uncover a structural deficiency as the bridge ages that would require it to be shut down for major repairs. The bridge already suffers from a low "sufficiency rating" from Caltrans.

With millions of car, truck and port cargo trips annually crossing the bridge, the traffic now exceeds its operational capacity, posing safety, congestion and maintenance challenges.

The new bridge will not only provide emergency lanes, but also three main traffic lanes in each direction, and a reduction in the bridge's steep grades to improve the traffic flow and safety. The replacement will also have a higher span over the port's main channel, allowing the newest generation of cargo ships to access the port's back channels.

“This new bridge will relieve traffic congestion and improve goods movement in the nation’s two busiest ports,” said Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “We are pleased to see this important project moving forward.”

Once construction begins, the project is expected to generate 4,000 jobs a year for five years of construction according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.