The Port of Long Beach has released the final environmental analysis for a plan to replace the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge with a new, nearly $1 billion span designed to improve traffic flow, safety and vessel navigation. The document is scheduled to be considered for approval Aug. 9 by the Board of Harbor Commissioners.
Earlier this year, the port completed the revised draft environmental impact report for the project and solicited comments, holding two public hearings on the project. The final EIR incorporates and responds to those comments. “The bridge is obsolete and deteriorating,” says Port Executive Director Richard D. Steinke. “The new bridge will add lanes for improved traffic flow and dedicated safety lanes to keep traffic moving if there’s a breakdown or accident.”
The Gerald Desmond Bridge, built in 1968, is a vital route for cargo, carrying about 15 percent of the nation’s goods. It is also a critical link for commuters, who make up about 75 percent of bridge traffic. The bridge serves as a connection for thousands of vehicles each day between Long Beach and San Pedro, and between Orange County and western Los Angeles County.
The new bridge would have three traffic lanes plus emergency lanes in both directions, making it safer and better able to accommodate cars and trucks on a major Southern California commuting route. The new bridge also would be higher to allow for the newest generation of green cargo ships to pass underneath. In addition, construction of the new bridge would create up to 4,000 jobs per year for up to six years.
“It’s critical that we replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge now,” Steinke says. “Rather than continue to pour money into maintaining a structure with major shortcomings, we have proposed a replacement bridge to meet our needs now and in the future. And construction will support thousands of badly needed jobs.”