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SoCal’s Newest Landmark Opens To (Ceremonial) Traffic

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Two cable towers along the Long Beach portion of the new bridge. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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The Gerald Desmond Replacement Bridge (yes, that’s its unwieldy name until the Legislature picks a new one) gets its big, covid-exclusive opening party today.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will oversee the ribbon-cutting honors along with port executives. There will be fireworks, a boat parade, and vintage airplanes flying overhead.

The opening ceremony is at 10 a.m., but because of the pandemic, the event will be just virtual. The Port of Long Beach will broadcast it live online at POLB.com.

A grand caravan of 30 classic cars and zero-emission vehicles will make the first official crossing of the cable-stayed bridge. It’s designed so the weight of the bridge platform is held up by cables attached to two 500-foot towers.

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Those cables will be lit up in pretty colors at night, and holiday colors for special events. Maybe Dodger Blue as we go into the playoffs.

Traffic on some streets around the Port of Long Beach will be closed Saturday and Sunday as workers remove the last barriers to ramps leading to the new bridge.

By early Monday, the bridge will start carrying cars and trucks across the channel from Long Beach to Terminal Island.

Once it’s open to the public, the bridge has ramps from the 710 Freeway and Ocean Blvd. on the Long Beach side, and from Highway 47 on the Terminal Island side.

The new bridge is 50-feet taller than the old one, which means that taller ships will be able to access the inner Port of Long Beach. It’s also longer, so the climb to get to the top of the bridge is not as steep.

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But you can’t drive across it yourself until Monday, when it opens to the public and becomes the tail end of the 710 Freeway.

The bridge has a separate protected lane for cycling and walking, but it will open up later, once safe connections are built.

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