Milestone paves way for construction of iconic cable-stayed center span

State, local and federal officials were joined by construction crews today to celebrate the completion of the two 515-foot-tall towers for the new bridge under construction at the Port of Long Beach.

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 ceremony was attended by more than 100 dignitaries.

“These new towers reaching over 500 feet into the air are changing the Long Beach skyline,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “The bridge is not only an important piece of infrastructure, its design will create a new iconic gateway into our city.”

“The new bridge will benefit the whole region. We will have improved traffic flow for our neighbors as well as for truckers,” said Lou Anne Bynum, Harbor Commission President. “And for our cyclists and walkers, don’t forget that we will also have the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle and Pedestrian Path.”

The tallest structures in Long Beach, the two towers on either side of the Port’s Back Channel will be main features of the new bridge. Scheduled for completion in 2019, the new bridge will one of the tallest of its kind in the United States.

“This achievement is the result of collaboration among our funding partners, as well as world-class engineering and construction by the whole project team,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We are now ready to move to our next important stage, which is to build the main span of the bridge.” “This bridge will be a lifeline for California’s economy as 40 percent of the nation’s imports come through this complex,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Congratulations to the Port of Long Beach for reaching the final stretch of completing this iconic bridge.”

In addition to the towers, also completed are long stretches of the new bridge’s westbound lanes. Construction of the eastbound lanes recently began. 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.

The replacement project enables the 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 support from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Honored in today’s ceremony, in addition to funding partners, were the following construction trades: Cement Masons Local 500, Electricians IBEW Local 11, Ironworkers Local 416 and 433, Laborers’ Local 1309, Operating Engineers Local 12, Southwest Carpenters/Pile Drivers and Teamsters Local 166.