Port of Long Beach and state officials Monday touted plans to replace the crumbling Gerald Desmond Bridge near the Queen Mary with the new span expected to cost almost $1 billion.
The 42-year-old Gerald Desmond Bridge is showing definite signs of its age -- including nets slung under it to catch the chunks of concrete that occasionally fall from it.
In addition to a modern, suspension design, the new bridge will be higher to allow larger cargo ships to use the inner part of the Long Beach harbor, and wider to help improve traffic flow to the 710 freeway and Terminal Island, officials said.
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The Desmond bridge was completed in 1968 and replaced a floating pontoon bridge that was the scene of numerous traffic crashes.
Caltrans has approved an expedited "design-build" contracting plan, and piers for the bridge are expected to start construction next year. Caltrans has said the bridge should be finished in 2016.
Officials said the construction project is expected to create about 4,000 jobs a year and generate about $2 billion in economic activity.