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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 01-13
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Contact: Nancy Singer
Tel: 202-366-0660

FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez Participates in Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Groundbreaking

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez participated today in the groundbreaking for the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement, which will relieve congestion and improve safety on a critical trade route for the Port of Long Beach.

“President Obama called on us to create an America built to last,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This project will do exactly that - by creating good construction jobs today and bolstering the economy for future generations by improving the flow of goods and international trade.”

Located at the south end of Interstate 710, the Gerald Desmond Bridge is the main transportation link to the Port of Long Beach. International trade and regional commuter traffic, accounting for 68,000 vehicles a day, exceeds the capacity of the aging bridge, which was built in 1968. To improve traffic flow, the new span will add a lane in each direction for a total of six lanes.  It will also include emergency lanes in both directions to reduce traffic delays and safety hazards from accidents and vehicle breakdowns, and a 200-foot vertical clearance to accommodate newer vessels that pass below it.

The steep approach grades and a lack of outside shoulders on the current bridge often result in broken-down vehicles being stuck in the outside lanes, severely restricting traffic and impeding emergency vehicles. The new bridge will feature a reduction in the steep grades to further improve traffic flow.

“This bridge is vital to freight movement and the nation’s economy,” said Administrator Mendez. “The project will also relieve congestion on the road network that directly serves one of the nation’s busiest ports.”

The $960.2 million bridge replacement is receiving $675 million in federal funding.

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