The Port of Long Beach hosted a virtual opening ceremony for its massive new bridge Friday.
The $1.47 billion project raised the bridge’s clearance 55 feet to more than 200 feet to allow increasingly bigger container ships to reach the Port of Long Beach’s inner harbor terminals. The new nearly 2-mile-long cable-stayed bridge has six vehicle lanes and four emergency shoulders. New transition ramps and connectors are designed to improve traffic flow.
The largest bridge in Southern California is scheduled to open at 5 a.m. Monday.
The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously voted in August 2010 to replace the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge, which was completed in 1968. Work on the new bridge, which Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero has called “the bridge to everywhere,” began in 2013.
Desmond was a Long Beach city attorney and councilman who died in 1964 at age 48.
Friday’s ceremony included a steady flow of prerecorded congratulatory videos from local, state and federal officials, including Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif.
Live activities atop the 205-foot-high bridge included a procession of trucks making their first trips over the bridge.
“This is not just a bridge for cargo or a bridge for the commuters. We have a bike path, a pedestrian path, so it’s not just a bridge to everywhere, it’s a bridge for everyone,” Cordero said during his remarks on top of the bridge.
Garcia said the bridge links the Port of Long Beach to the world and will be lit up at night “as a beacon for American achievement.”
After the ceremony, construction crews began the weekend-long process of switching lanes to the new bridge, which will be named at a later date, in anticipation of Monday’s opening.