California bridge set for $60m demolition

Gerald Desmon bridge in the Port of Long Beach, California Demolition of the Gerald Desmond Bridge (foreground) will begin in May. (Photo: Port of Long Beach)

US-based demolition specialist Kiewit West is to demolish the old Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach in California in May of this year, following the completion of a replacement bridge.

Named after the former Long Beach city attorney who helped secure the funding to build it, the Gerald Desmond Bridge was opened for public use in 1968. 

Demolition works to the Gerald Desmond Bridge will see Kiewit West dismantle and remove the structure’s main steel truss spans, steel plate girder approaches, abutments, columns, access ramps, foundations and other pieces of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

The old arched structure, which was decommissioned in early October 2020 after a new US$1.57 billion replacement bridge was opened, comprises five vehicle lanes and rises 155 feet above the waters of the Back Channel.

During its 50 years of service the structure played a vital role in helping the Port of Long Beach grow into an international shipping terminal. 

Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach Executive Director, said: “The Gerald Desmond Bridge helped this port complex become one of the busiest in the world. It helped us reach new heights during an era of incredible, transformative growth in international trade,”

“We will bid a fond farewell to the Gerald Desmond, and honor the memory of the man for whom it was named. The new bridge that replaced it is a fitting, and lasting tribute to the old span.”

Kiewit West, which was awarded the $59.9 million demolition contract in July of 2021, will begin the demolition by dismantling the structure’s 527-ft-long main span.

The section will be disconnected and lowered onto a barge, and floated away on the Back Channel waterway that runs beneath it.

While the Back Channel will be closed to all other vessels from 7 to 9 May this year to enable the operation to be carried out, “vehicle traffic on the replacement bridge will not be affected by the demolition”, said the Port of Long Beach.

“Following the first weekend, further significant waterway impacts are not anticipated. Full demolition is expected to be concluded by the end of 2023.”

All the metal and other materials removed from the old bridge will be hauled to a recycling site for salvaging and reuse.

According to port authorities, removal of the Gerald Desmond Bridge and the construction of its replacement, will allow large cargo vessels to more easily access the Port’s Inner Harbor.

The new six-lane replacement bridge, known as the Long Beach International Gateway, is a cable-stayed structure and provides 205 ft of clearance over the Back Channel.

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