The ramp connecting the southbound 710 Freeway and westbound Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach will be closed for two and a half years starting Saturday as construction begins to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
The connector ramp will be demolished, as well as the old bridge, as the foundations of the new bridge are laid, officials said. The closure will affect any motorists driving to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, officials said.
"We have spent the past several months preparing for this closure and have made key improvements to ensure a smooth flow of traffic along the detour route," said John Pope, the community relations manager for the Port of Long Beach. "However, we recognize that closing this connector may cause some impacts, and we encourage motorists to use alternate routes if they have the option."
With the connector closing, drivers will be diverted onto Pico Avenue , then to an onramp that joins Ocean Boulevard to cross the old bridge. Officials urged trucks and other vehicles to use the 110 or 47 freeways when traveling beyond the Port of Long Beach.
To ease any issues caused by the detour, two extra right-turn lanes have been installed on the southbound Pico Avenue and the roadway was widened and restriped to create a third southbound lane.
A traffic signal was also installed at the intersection of Pico Avenue and Pier D Street to improve the flow of traffic, officials said.
The demolition of the ramp will also cause closures of southbound Harbor Scenic Drive between Friday, May 23 and Tuesday, May 27.
Various law enforcement agencies will be on hand at the start of the closure to make sure vehicles are entering the detour route at safe speeds and to quickly clear up any wrecks.