Once expected to open this month, the nearly $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project has encountered delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, pushing the opening to around Labor Day weekend, according to Duane Kenagy, capital programs executive at the Port of Long Beach.
“Contractors had some impacts from COVID that affected some of their suppliers,” Kenagy said. “And certain activities aren’t quite as efficient given work restrictions and social distancing. The good news is most of the work is outside in the fresh air.”
The main span of the bridge has been completed and the approaches, which connect the bridge to land on either end, are still under construction. Safety features, including a final treatment of the suspension cables and seismic shock absorbers, are still underway.
The deconstruction of the cranes and tower elevators has begun, which will allow for some finishing touches before the bridge is paved and striped. The bridge’s westbound lanes will open first, Kenagy said, with the eastbound lanes opening one day later.
The pedestrian paths are slated to open a few weeks after the bridge opens to vehicle traffic, Kenagy said. The delay is due to the fact that the paths cannot be completed until detours are removed and some surface roadways get reconstructed. Removing the detours and road reconstruction will be done while remaining open to traffic, which should take five to six weeks.
Demolition plans of the Gerald Desmond Bridge are still being finalized. The Port expects to put out a request for bids in the fall, Kenagy said. Once a contract is awarded, he said the bridge demolition is expected to take about two years.
The two most likely options for bridge demolition are to disassemble the bridge in the reverse order of how it was originally constructed, or by lowering large segments onto barges in the water below to be disassembled off site. Kenagy said the method will be determined by the contracted company.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project is two decades in the making. Initial planning began in 2000, the design and construction contract was awarded in 2012, and construction got underway in 2013.