The “topping-out” ceremony marked the end of a three-year construction process to build the signature towers that will be the centerpieces of California’s first cable-stayed bridge for vehicular traffic.
The two towers, which are now unofficially the tallest structures in Long Beach, will be main features of the new, yet-to-be-named bridge, which is scheduled for completion in 2019. In addition to the towers, also completed are long stretches of the new bridge’s westbound lanes. Construction of the eastbound lanes recently began.
“We are now ready to move to our next important stage, which is to build the main span of the bridge,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.
When fully completed, the new bridge will include six traffic lanes and four emergency shoulders, a higher clearance to accommodate large cargo ships, the bike and pedestrian path with scenic overlooks, and more efficient transition ramps and connectors to improve traffic flow, especially among trucks.
“This bridge will be a lifeline for California’s economy as 40 percent of the nation’s imports come through this complex,” California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a statement.
The replacement project enables the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge to remain in use while the new bridge is under construction. The $1.47 billion bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the port, with additional funding coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
“The new bridge will benefit the whole region,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum said. “We will have improved traffic flow for our neighbors as well as for truckers.”