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Vincent Thomas Bridge - San Pedro


Vincent Thomas Bridge Who was Vincent Thomas?

Some Facts About the Vincent Thomas Bridge
(between Terminal Island & San Pedro)

Type: Suspension
Opened: November 15, 1963
Cost: $21 million
Length: 6,050 feet (1.1 miles)
Main suspension span: 1,500 feet
Spans on both sides: 500 feet each
Height of Towers: 365 feet
Vertical Clearance: 185 ft.
Designed to withstand 90 mph winds (double code requirements)
Daily Vehicle Traffic:

Construction of the bridge required:
92,000 tons of Portland cement
13,000 tons of lightweight concrete
14,100 tons of steel
1,270 tons of suspension cable
The main span of the Vincent Thomas Bridge is 1,500 feet long as compared to the Golden Gate Bridge at 4,200 feet long.

Vincent Thomas Bridge is named for Vincent Thomas, former California Assemblyman, Democrat, 52nd District, San Pedro. Thomas moved to San Pedro from Oakland in 1919. In 1928, he graduated from San Pedro High School. He received a Bachelor Degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1932 and attended the University of Santa Clara and Loyola Law Schools from 1932 to 1936. He worked as a minor sports coach and PE instructor while in college. He also played football for Santa Clara. He was married and had a daughter and son. He was elected to the California Assembly in 1940. In 1962, he was elevated to Dean of the Assembly. He also served as Chairman of the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations. He was still in the Assembly when his namesake bridge opened in 1963. He was the individual most responsible for its realization. He served in the Assembly at least through 1975.

Before the Vincent Thomas Bridge came to be, Terminal Island was reached by ferry from San Pedro. Boys were known to swim across the channel to the island in order to avoid paying the five-cent fare. They entrusted their clothes to one of their number who actually boarded the ferry.


-- Third largest suspension span bridge in California,
after the Golden Gate Bridge and San
Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, respectively.

-- First welded (not riveted) suspension bridge in the
United States.

-- Only suspension bridge in the world supported
entirely on piles.

-- Named after Assemblyman Vincent Thomas of San
Pedro. In 1961, the California Legislature passed a
special measure to name the structure after
Thomas in honor of his persistence and faith
in the bridge's future success.

-- Designed by the Bridge Department of the
California Division of Highways, now known as
Caltrans, which owns and maintains the bridge.

-- Encompasses 2.2 miles of Los Angeles County
Route CA-47.

-- Required 92,000 tons of Portland cement, 13,000 tons of lightweight concrete,
14,100 tons of steel and 1,270 tons of suspension cable to construct.

-- When the Bridge opened in 1963, a 25-cent toll was collected in each direction.
On grand opening day, Assemblyman Thomas paid the first toll. In 1983, the toll
increased to 50 cents for westbound traffic and was free for eastbound traffic.
In 2000, the Bridge was considered “paid for” and the toll was repealed.

-- Painting the bridge is a routine and continuous maintenance job, handled by Caltrans,
which requires 1,500 gallons of zinc, 500 gallons of primer and 1,000 gallons
of green paint to cover the span.

-- In 1996, the Los Angeles City Council declared the Vincent Thomas Bridge as
the City of Los Angeles’ official welcoming monument.


Opened to traffic:
November 15, 1963
Tower Height: 365 feet; 185 feet (35 stories) above water
Length: 6,060 feet (2.2 miles)
Width (Roadway): 52 feet
Deck: 6.5 inches of concrete
Center Suspension Span: 1,500 feet
East/West Tower Spans:
506 feet
Anchor Weight: 23,000 tons each (two anchors)
San Pedro Approach:
1,838 feet
Terminal Island Approach: 1,712 feet
Vertical Clearance: 185 feet
Cables: 19; 11 interior and 8 exterior
Cable Wires: 212 per cable
Steel Piles: 990 – each supporting 145 tons
Seismic Sensors: 26
Traffic Lanes: Four – two westbound and two eastbound
Traffic Count: 32,000 vehicles each weekday
Construction Cost: $21 million

Light Color: Blue
Light Type: Clusters of tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs)
Number of Lights: 160 lamps on the bridge; 360 LEDs per lamp
Lamp Size: Five millimeters in diameter
Lamp Brightness: Equivalent to 150-watt incandescent bulb
Power Use:
20 watts total (low usage + high-intensity light output)
Powered by:
4.5-kilowatt solar panel system – each panel is two feet wide and four feet long and generates 10 watts of electric power per square foot
Solid-state circuitry and robust construction enables LED lamps to withstand ocean gales and corrosive sea air for years of maintenance-free operation
Average Life: 100,000 operating hours – LED lamps last 30-50 times longer than incandescent lamps and deliver a power savings of 80-90% compared to traditional lights.
Environment: Will not disrupt migratory birds
Will not burden the power grid
Project Cost: $1,002,657.81
Schedule: Lights turned on from dusk to midnight every night, per California Coastal Commission requirements