The hundreds of truckers each day who leave Terminal Island in Long Beach via the 710 Freeway will lose their direct ramp and have to negotiate traffic lights, turns and cars on a detour, starting Saturday.
The connecting ramp from the old Gerald Desmond Bridge to the northbound 710 will be torn down, starting Sunday, to make room for the next phase of construction of the $1.47 billion replacement bridge.
The detour will include an exit to Pico Avenue, a traffic light with three left turn lanes there, and then a half mile drive up Pico to the next 710 onramp.
When the new bridge is finished in about a year, it will again provide a direct connector ramp to the north 710, Long Beach port officials said today. This detour route is the last major closure for the bridge replacement project, according to Duane Kenagy of the Port of Long Beach.
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"We sincerely appreciate everyone's patience and understanding during this significant infrastructure improvement project," Kenagy said. "We are now heading into the home stretch to realize the completion of the new bridge, which will offer vastly improved traffic flow compared to the old bridge."
Another detour is to use Route 47 north to Anaheim Street, Pacific Coast Highway or Willow Street, then head east to the 710.
As crews begin to demolish the northbound 710 Freeway connector ramp, there will be other short-term road closures in the area, port officials said.
The first closure will occur July 4-6, and when southbound Harbor Scenic Drive will be closed as it passes under the old connector ramp. Southbound Harbor Scenic Drive is the primary route from the 710 Freeway to the Queen Mary, cruise lines and nearby hotels, as well as to Port of Long Beach Piers F-J.
To access these areas, the recommended detour for motorists is to continue south on the 710 Freeway to the "Downtown Long Beach'' exit and Shoreline Drive, then cross back over the Los Angeles River to the Queen Mary area.
When completed, the new port bridge will include six traffic lanes and four emergency shoulders, a higher clearance to accommodate large cargo ships, a bike and pedestrian path with scenic overlooks, and more efficient transition ramps and connectors to improve traffic flow, especially for trucks.
The replacement project enables the old Gerald Desmond Bridge to remain in use while the new bridge is under construction. The old bridge is literally falling apart, as large canvas bags are tied under the bridge to catch falling concrete chunks.
The $1.47-billion bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port of Long Beach, with additional funding support from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.