Thursday, October 2, 2014

Foundation Laid for New Harbor Bridge

By Mark Edward Nero

Port of Long Beach, City of Long Beach and California Dept. of Transportation officials, along with a team of builders and designers, recently commemorated a key milestone in the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project: construction of the first set of bridge foundations.

On Oct. 1, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and members of the City Council and Harbor Commission gathered to view the construction of foundation piles that contain a massive amount of steel rebar and concrete.

This new bridge, which will span the port, will be supported by about 350 piles constructed in the ground at depths down to 175 feet below the surface, with poured concrete and inserted steel rebar in pre-dug holes.

“It’s very exciting to see the construction in full swing,” Garcia said. “This new bridge will be a dramatic addition to the Long Beach skyline and it all starts here, with these solid concrete-and-steel foundations.”

Mayor Garcia, Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond and Port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup were joined at the event by Caltrans District 7 Director Carrie Bowen and Bob Schraeder, design-build project manager for SFI, the joint venture contractor team comprised of Shimmick Construction Co. Inc., FCC Construcción S.A. and Impregilo SpA.

The new bridge will include six traffic lanes and emergency shoulders, a higher clearance to accommodate new generations of cargo ships and a dedicated bicycle path and pedestrian walkway, including scenic overlooks. When completed, the new bridge will be one of the tallest bridges of its kind in the United States and feature two 515-foot towers.

The project is a joint effort of the California Dept. of Transportation and the port, with funding contributions from the US Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
When the existing bridge was built more than 45 years ago, cargo ships were one-sixth the size they are today, and the current bridge prevents the newest generation of cargo ships from reaching the inner channel. The new bridge will raise the clearance from 155 feet to 205 feet above the water.

The current Gerald Desmond Bridge will remain in use while the new bridge is under construction, then the existing bridge will be demolished once the new one’s completed.

In June, port Acting Executive Director Al Moro, an engineer by trade, revealed that the still-unnamed new bridge, which was set for completion in late 2016, is now expected to be complete anywhere from late 2017 to mid-2018.