Real Property Section Newsletter -
October 2016

Construction/Real Estate Lawyers Tour Construction of New Gerald Desmond Bridge Project by L. Adam Winegard


On September 28, 2016, a group of Los Angeles construction and real estate attorneys were privileged to be taken on a construction site-visit of the new $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project being built at the Port of Long Beach. Adam Winegard of Hill International Consulting, Inc., worked closely with Stephen MacLennan, Program Director for the Project to first give the group a background presentation of the project and its history at the Project Office. MacLennan works for WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff who is the Program Manager overseeing the program for the Port of Long Beach. After donning our personal protective equipment, we caravanned out to the construction site where we were able to see the work completed on the massive footings for the main span columns as well as see the progress made on the bridge approaches and deck work. The Design/Build team is incorporating an innovative scaffolding system called a self-launching movable scaffolding system, or MSS for short, the technology has never before been used to build a bridge in California. The pinnacle of the site-visit was the chance to ride the elevator attached to one of the main columns which currently stops at a platform over 200 feet high. Michael Bayard who attended the site visit said, "the event was a great success. After the tour, which was amazing, we all had dinner together at Parker's Lighthouse."

The new bridge will replace the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge which developed maintenance problems, and the Port of Long Beach found it would be more economical to replace the bridge with a cable-stayed bridge. The new bridge will allow access to the port for the tallest container ships, and will be the first long-span cable-stayed bridge in California. For the bridge to be so tall, long approaches will be required to allow trucks to cross. The Gerald Desmond Bridge is a major access point to the Port of Long Beach from downtown Long Beach and surrounding communities, carrying I-710 over the Port's Inner Harbor to Terminal Island. The replacement bridge will be a six-lane, cable-stayed design, with a 205-foot clearance to allow the newest generation of cargo ships to enter the Port. The bridge will include emergency lanes on the inner and outer shoulders, as well as a bicycle/pedestrian path. The new bridge is being built alongside the current bridge to maintain traffic flow. The current bridge will be demolished once the replacement is completed.

In 2012, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved Port of Long Beach staff's recommendation that the "best value" design-build proposal to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge was submitted by the joint venture team of Shimmick Construction Company Inc., FCC Construction S.A. and Impregilo S.p.A. The project is scheduled for completion by 2018. The project is to be completed as a design-build in contrast to the traditional design-bid-build used typically in infrastructure improvement.

About 15% of the nation's waterborne cargo travels across the Gerald Desmond Bridge. At 515 feet tall with a striking cable-stayed design illuminated with LED lighting, the new bridge will be visible throughout much of the L.A. Basin. When completed, the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project will be one of the tallest bridges of its kind in the United States, and an icon for the City of Long Beach and Southern California.

The group wishes to express our appreciation to MacLennan, his excellent staff, and the Port of Long Beach for taking us on this exciting tour. Winegard explained, "we hope to have other construction site tours during the next few years as it is a great way for attorneys to see how the projects are actually built." MacLennan has already invited the group back in about nine-months when even more construction will be placed." Current LACBA Construction Sub-Section Chairman Donna Kirkner added, "I am so sorry I had to miss it but I'm looking forward to another outing together next year."

For more information regarding future events, please contact Donna Kirkner at dkirkner@lienlawatty.com or Adam Winegard at adamwinegard@hillintl.com.

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