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Gerald Desmond Bridge

History and museums
sightseeing, culture, bridge, walking

The Gerald Desmond Bridge is a through arch bridge that carries four lanes of Ocean Boulevard from Interstate 710 in Long Beach, California, west across the Cerritos Channel to Terminal Island. The bridge is named after Gerald Desmond, a prominent civic leader and a former city attorney for the City of Long Beach.


The bridge was designed by Moffatt & Nichol Engineers and was constructed by Bethlehem Steel. Intended to replace a pontoon bridge that had been in use since World War II, and exactly one year after Gerald's death, ground-breaking for the construction of the new bridge occurred on October 19, 1965, and it was completed in 1968. It has a 410-foot-long (120 m) suspended main span and a 155-foot (47 m) vertical clearance over the Cerritos Channel and connects Terminal Island on its east side to downtown Long Beach.


This bridge has developed maintenance problems, and the Port of Long Beach has suggested it would be more economical to replace the bridge with a cable-stayed bridge with 205 feet (62 m) of vertical clearance. The new bridge will allow access to the port for the tallest container ships, and will be the first long-span cable-stayed bridge in California. For the bridge to be so tall, long approaches will be required to allow trucks to cross. A joint venture of Parsons Transportation Group and HNTB performed preliminary engineering for the main span and the approaches.

The replacement bridge was approved in 2010. In 2012, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved Port of Long Beach staff’s recommendation that the “best value” design-build proposal to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge was submitted by the joint venture team of Shimmick Construction Company Inc., FCC Construction S.A. and Impregilo S.p.A. Major participants in the joint venture include Shimmick Construction Company Inc., FCC Construction S.A., Impregilo S.p.A., Arup North America Ltd. and Biggs Cardosa Associates Inc. The project was originally estimated to cost $800 million, currently slated for $1.5 billion and is scheduled for completion by 2018. The project is to be completed as a design-build in contrast to the traditional design-bid-build used typically in infrastructure improvement. As of 2015, construction on the replacement bridge is still underway.

In March 2012, the 155-foot (47 m) vertical clearance of the bridge proved insufficient to allow passage of the 12,562 TEU MSC Fabiola, the largest container ship ever to enter the Port of Long Beach. The height restriction prevented the ship from docking at the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) dock; it docked at the Hanjin terminal instead.

Popular culture

The bridge had a featured role in the film Head, featuring rock group The Monkees, released in 1968. The first scene of the film features the actual dedication ceremony for the bridge, which is interrupted by the Monkees running into the middle of the ceremony and Micky Dolenz jumping off the bridge. At the conclusion of the film the Monkees return to the bridge and each of them jumps from it. A bridge based on this one is also featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto V. It, however, is unnamed. ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

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