The Gerald Desmond Bridge, a cable-stayed span that replaces the adjacent arch bridge that connected the Port of Long Beach (POLB) with the California mainland for more than half a century, opened in early October.

The six-lane, 2,000-foot-long bridge crosses Long Beach’s Back Channel and features a 1,000-foot-long main span between two 515-foot-high towers. It is the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. and the first such bridge for vehicles in California. The deck’s 205-foot vertical clearance exceeds the clearance of the previous four-lane bridge by 50 feet.

ARTBA member firm WSP USA provided program management and construction management services for the project on behalf of the POLB, overseeing and managing the design-build contract. The design-build project team, SFI, consisted of a joint venture between ARTBA member Shimmick Construction Company, Inc., FCC Construccion S.A, and Impregilo S.P.A and included ARUP North America and Biggs Cardosa Associates as the lead designers.

Work on the $1.5 billion project began in 2013. With 15 percent of the nation’s waterborne cargo transported over the Gerald Desmond Bridge every year, it serves as an essential part of the U.S. trade infrastructure, as well as providing a vital route for motorists travelling between the POLB and surrounding communities.

“The importance of this bridge cannot be understated, and not just for commuters who will feel the immediate impact of shorter travel times,” Joseph Pulicare, WSP president of U.S. transportation, said in a company release. “This bridge will have a global economic impact, providing a reliable connection between one of the world’s busiest cargo ports and the rest of the U.S. awaiting delivery of those goods.”