Bridge Milestone Celebrated at Port of Long Beach

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 2, 2014

Bridge Milestone Celebrated

Bridge Milestone Celebrated


Port, City and Caltrans officials, along with an international team of builders and designers, celebrated a key milestone today in the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project: Construction of the first set of bridge foundations is under way.

“This new iconic bridge represents our future and it’s very exciting to see the construction in full swing,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “This new bridge will be a dramatic addition to the Long Beach skyline and it all starts here, with these solid concrete-and-steel foundations.”

When completed, the new bridge spanning the Port of Long Beach will be one of the tallest bridges of its kind in the United States. With two 515-foot towers and a majestic cable-stayed design, the new bridge will be an icon for Long Beach and Southern California visible from miles away.

“The technological and engineering expertise involved in building these foundations is astounding,” said Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond. “They will be supporting this iconic bridge for the next 100 years.”

Mayor Garcia and members of the City Council and Harbor Commission gathered to view construction of foundation piles that contain a massive amount of steel rebar and concrete. This new bridge will be supported by about 350 piles constructed in the ground at depths down to 175 feet below the surface, with poured concrete and inserted steel rebar in pre-dug holes.

This technique builds a “cast-in-drilled-hole” pile, different than traditional pile driving where the piles are constructed first and then pounded into the ground. The final step is to inject grout under high pressure to the very bottom of the pile. Each cluster of foundation piles will be connected by a pile cap, a thick concrete pad that rests atop several piles. Each pile cap will support one of the approximately 70 bridge columns.

Mayor Garcia, Drummond and Port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup were joined today by Carrie Bowen, Caltrans District 7 Director, and Bob Schraeder, design-build project manager for SFI, the joint venture contractor team comprised of Shimmick Construction Co. Inc., FCC Construcción S.A. and Impregilo S.p.A.

“The Port of Long Beach is very pleased to celebrate this milestone with our key partners – Caltrans and SFI,” said Slangerup. “Together, we are building state-of-the-art infrastructure that is critically important to this country’s movement of goods.”

The new bridge will include six traffic lanes and emergency shoulders, a higher clearance to accommodate new generations of cargo ships, and a dedicated bicycle path and pedestrian walkway, including scenic overlooks. When the existing bridge was constructed more than 45 years ago, cargo ships were one-sixth the size they are today. Although the Port of Long Beach’s outer

docks are “big ship ready” and already handling the world’s largest cargo vessels, the existing bridge prevents the newest generation of cargo ships from reaching the inner channel. The new bridge will raise the clearance from 155 feet to 205 feet above the water.

“The SFI team combines Shimmick Construction, a California leader in heavy construction and engineering, with the world-renowned construction firms FCC and Impregilo - builders of some of the most complex bridges in the world,” Schraeder said. “Here in California Shimmick retrofitted the Golden Gate Bridge and now we’re bringing this expertise to Long Beach. Our crews are building a world-class bridge - they’re local, they’re from our neighborhoods and that’s what we’re most proud of - creating great jobs for the local community.”

Bowen of Caltrans said she, too, was pleased by the cooperative spirit among the key parties in the new bridge project. “This project involves cooperation and collaboration from many agencies and experts. When completed, it will benefit the region, the state of California and the international shipping community while maintaining sustainable solutions for moving goods and freight through this very busy port.”

The replacement project will allow the Gerald Desmond Bridge to remain in use while the new bridge is under construction. The new bridge is among $4 billion in current and planned improvements to further modernize the Port of Long Beach and keep it competitive. Work on the new bridge will generate an estimated 3,000 jobs. The existing bridge will be demolished once the new one is completed.

The bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port, with funding contributions from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

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