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Gerald Desmond Bridge - Los Angeles

Gerald Desmond Bridge

California Bridges

Gerald Desmond Bridge Status: in use
Location: Between Los Angeles, California, USA and Long Beach, California, USA

Structural Type: Arch bridge  / suspended deck
Function / usage: Road bridge
Span: 5,134 Ft.


On a visit to San Pedro or Long Beach in Southern California, you may have occasion to drive across the Gerald Desmond Bridge. There aren't many bridges in Southern California that actually cross over ocean channels in this manner so the experience is somewhat lifting in the fact that you are high up in the air which driving across this suspended deck, arch bridge.


It was built in 1968 as a third route onto Terminal Island to compliment Commodore Heim and Vincent Thomas Bridges, both part of California Highway 47. It is located in the Port of Long Beach and connects the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles with the I-710. Ten percent of all the Nation’s waterborne cargo travels over the Desmond Bridge, a National Highway System Intermodal Connector Route,  National Defense Highway System route and part of I-710. The bridges' namesake, Gerald Desmond, was a prominent Long Beach civic leader who served as a Long Beach City Councilmember and as Long Beach City Attorney.


The main suspension span of the Gerald Desmond Bridge is 1,053 feet long with the highest point of the bridge standing 250 feet above the water below. This bridge was built high to allow for commercial shipping traffic to pass beneath it, but with recent advances in shipping technology, today's container ships are sometimes too large to fit under the bridge. Like the pontoon bridge that preceded it, Gerald Desmond Bridge may be replaced pending funding by the Port of Long Beach and Caltrans. The Program entails replacing the existing four lane bridge with a six-lane cable-stayed bridge. With an air draft of 200 feet, the new bridge will assure that the largest container ships will have unimpeded access.


The I-710 Corridor/Gerald Desmond Bridge is the de facto trade highway gateway to the nation. All cities along the I-710 corridor and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority have adopted a “Locally Preferred Strategy” (LPS) for the Alameda Corridor, a transportation corridor built to enhance movement of goods in and out of The Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.


Gerald Desmond Bridge connects Terminal Island with downtown Long Beach and northbound Interstate 710, passing over shipping channels below the bridge.  The bridge affords an expansive view of surrounding Long Beach and points eastward. The right lanes lead to Interstate 710; the left lanes lead into downtown Long Beach via Ocean Boulevard.


While the narrow shoulders of the bridge preclude it from meeting Interstate standards, it is listed as part of California 710 Freeway.

The northbound California 710/Terminal Island Spur begins along the Seaside Freeway after its intersection with California 47/Terminal Island Freeway. This intersection is slated to be upgraded to a freeway interchange in coming years. The first exit after that intersection is this one, for Piers S and T. It is the last exit before crossing the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

A recent study by the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority estimated that truck traffic on I-710 could double by 2030 even with the implementation of several truck reduction strategies, including shuttle trains, more use of on-dock and near-dock rail yards, a “virtual” container yard, and extended gate hours. Thus, the freeway improvements will be required even with these other strategies in place.


While the ports in Los Angeles County and the import /export industries bring many travelers to the state of California, visitors also come to San Pedro where the bridge is situated, to enjoy vacations. Overlooked as a vacation hot spot, San Pedro is really a great getaway. One of our favorite hotels for overnight and weekend stays is the Marina Hotel on the water.