Demolition of the Gerald Desmond Bridge in the Port of Long Beach is scheduled to start in July with the removal of the section of the span suspended over the Back Channel, requiring a 48-hour closure of the channel to all watercraft traffic.
The Back Channel will be closed to vessels from 6 a.m. Saturday, July 9, to 6 a.m., Monday, July 11, as the bridge’s 410-foot-long suspended span is dismantled and lowered onto a barge. The Gerald Desmond Bridge has been closed to vehicle traffic since early October 2020 when its replacement opened. Vehicle traffic on the replacement bridge will not be affected by the demolition of the old span.
Removal of the suspended span is one of the first steps in demolishing the Desmond Bridge. Following the first weekend, further significant waterway impacts are not anticipated. Full demolition is expected to be concluded by the end of 2023.
Removal of the Desmond Bridge, rising 155 feet above the water, will allow large cargo vessels to more easily access the Port’s Inner Harbor. The new bridge has a 205-foot clearance over the channel.
“We became the nation’s premier port for international trade during a period of extraordinary growth, thanks to infrastructure like the Gerald Desmond Bridge,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “The new bridge shines as a regional landmark that serves as a fitting and lasting tribute to the old span.”
“The Gerald Desmond Bridge served Southern California’s regional transportation network for over 50 years, carrying more than 60,000 Southern California commuters and cargo-hauling trucks every day by the time construction started on the new bridge,” said Steven Neal, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. “The new bridge is safer and serves as a symbol of the Port of Long Beach’s position as a primary gateway for trans-Pacific trade.”
Opened in 1968, the Gerald Desmond Bridge was named after a former Long Beach city attorney and city councilman who helped secure the funding needed to build the nearly 1-mile-long bridge. Desmond died when the bridge that would be eventually named for him was under construction.
A retirement ceremony was held for the old bridge in May. An outlook on the new bridge will be named in Desmond’s honor.
The Port awarded a contract in July 2021 to Kiewit West Inc., to dismantle and remove main steel truss spans, steel plate girder approaches, abutments, columns, access ramps, and other pieces of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
Funding for the $59.9 million demolition project is included within the overall $1.57 billion budget to design and build the replacement bridge.
Metal, concrete, and other materials from the old bridge will be recycled whenever possible.