New bridge features tallest deck in U.S. for cable-stayed span

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The new bridge for the Port of Long Beach is the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the country and has the highest deck for a U.S. cable-stayed bridge. It replaces the Gerald Desmond Bridge, foreground, which will be demolished. Photo credit: Port of Long BeachThe new bridge for the Port of Long Beach is the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the country and has the highest deck for a U.S. cable-stayed bridge. It replaces the Gerald Desmond Bridge, foreground, which will be demolished. Photo credit: Port of Long Beach

The new cable-stayed Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge for the Port of Long Beach in California has opened after seven years of construction.

Its deck, at 205 feet above water, is the highest on a cable-stayed bridge in the United States, according to the port. The bridge’s two towers, at 515 feet tall each, also make it the country’s second-tallest cable-stayed bridge. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge in Charleston, South Carolina, is the tallest at 572.5 feet.

The new bridge replaces the 52-year-old Gerald Desmond Bridge, which had become outdated due to larger ships traveling to the port, as well as increased port vehicle traffic. The old four-lane bridge stands 155 feet above water and is slated for demolition. The new bridge will be named later.

The 2-mile replacement bridge cost an estimated $1.47 billion and carries six lanes of traffic. The port and Caltrans were partners on the project. The bridge spans the port’s 220-foot-wide back channel that ships use to access the North Harbor area. It is designed to last 100 years, require minimal maintenance and withstand major earthquakes.

“The bridge includes German-design joints at each end of the main span that move up to 6 feet in three directions during a very strong earthquake,” the port says. “These joints, large dampers, and other features are designed to provide flexibility and elastic points of isolation that enable bridge segments to move independently without casing significant damage to the bridge’s primary superstructure.”

The new bridge features 18 million pounds of structural steel, 75 million pounds of rebar and 1.7 million feet of cable, according to the port. A pedestrian and biking path will be added.

“This is a historic day for our city and for the nation,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia at the opening ceremony October 2. “We know that this project is a phenomenal marvel of architecture and infrastructure. It connects our port and the world to each other. All of the commerce that we depend on will go over this bridge — connecting Long Beach to the rest of the country.”

The contractor for the project was a joint venture of Shimmick Construction Co. of California, FCC Construction Co. S.A. of Spain, and Impregilo S.p.A of Italy.

Due to the pandemic, a virtual grand opening ceremony was held October 2. Check out the video below by the Port of Long Beach, to see the ceremony and get an in-depth look at this massive engineering accomplishment: