Traveling through the Port of Long Beach will be a much different experience Monday with the opening of a new Gerald Desmond Bridge.
The six-lane, cable-stayed bridge officially opens to traffic at 5 a.m. It will provide a major regional highway connector as well as improve cargo movement.
“This is a historic day for our city,'' Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We know that this project is just a phenomenal architecture and infrastructure marvel.
"Not only does it connect Long Beach to Los Angeles, but it connects our port to the world.”
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, said that when the original Gerald Desmond Bridge was completed in 1968, cargo ships were just one-sixth the size they are now.
With two towers reaching 515 feet into the sky, it is the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States, port officials said. The previous bridge was facilitating the transport of 15% of all container goods coming into the U.S.
The bridge replacement project began in 2013 to clear a path for the new structure, port officials said. The $1.47 billion, nearly two-mile bridge project also includes the eventual demolition of the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge.
The bridge was named in honor of prominent Long Beach civic leader who was active in local government and also served on the Long Beach City Council. He was a delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention and later elected city attorney.