Long Beach port board OKs new bridge

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The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved a $649.5 million contract with a joint venture team headed by Shimmick Construction Co. Inc., FCC Construction S.A. and Impregilo S.p.A. (SFI) for the design and construction of a replacement for the Port of Long Beach’s obsolete and deteriorating Gerald Desmond Bridge. Final design and engineering will begin shortly, and construction of the new bridge is to start in 2013 and is scheduled for completion in 2016.

The bridge replacement – designed to ease traffic congestion and improve safety – is being procured jointly by the port and the California Department of Transportation. Caltrans, Los Angeles County Metro, the port and the U.S. Department of Transportation are contributing funds to the project.

The Gerald Desmond span, which opened in 1968, is a major commuting route for the region and a major trade corridor, carrying 15 percent of all containerized cargo imported to the United States. The bridge connects Terminal Island, the heart of the port complex, with the Long Beach Interstate 710 Freeway, as well as downtown Long Beach.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the joint venture team finalize the designs and then get to work building the bridge that will serve our communities and the needs of international trade for years to come,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Susan Anderson Wise.

The SFI joint venture – which in addition to Shimmick, FCC and Impregilo includes subcontractors Arup North America Ltd. and Biggs Cardosa Associates Inc. – submitted a design-build proposal earlier this year that was selected by the port and Caltrans as the “best-value” proposal.

“The new Gerald Desmond Bridge will be an essential part of the region’s infrastructure that will play a vital role in California’s transportation and economic future,” said Caltrans District 7 Director Mike Miles. “A design-build approach will expedite this project and helps us improve mobility for goods, people and services.”

While the contract for the joint venture is about $650 million, the total cost of the overall bridge replacement project is estimated at about $1 billion, including site preparation, demolition and other considerations. Over the four years of construction and demolition, the work is expected to employ nearly 3,000 people a year on average.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project is the eighth design-build project authorized by the California Transportation Commission under state design-build legislation (SBX2 4) signed in 2009. This legislation created a transportation design-build demonstration program that authorizes best-value procurements for a limited number of design-build projects. The design-build method combines design and construction work into one contract to expedite the project and potentially reduce costs.