Replacement bridge cables

Construction crews install the last of the 40 cable pipes into place on the Gerald Desmond replacement bridge in Long Beach on Monday, Feb. 10.

A new, instantly iconic bridge in the Port of Long Beach complex will open late this summer or early fall, port officials say.

But the replacement for the Gerald Desmond Bridge doesn't have a name. There is a process to name major structures in the state, Lee Peterson, port media relations manager, said.

"Once the bridge is done, we'll be turning it over to the state," Peterson said. "That would mean that the state legislature has the authority to name it."

The new bridge, the second largest cable stay bridge in the country, has been financed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Port of Long Beach, with contributions from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Once it is open, Caltrans will be responsible for maintenance.

While the state legislature is where the final name decision will be made, Long Beach residents will have a say, according to Mayor Robert Garcia's chief of staff, Diana Tang.

"They are the formal body," Tang said. "But they like to see some community buy-in. Mayor Garcia will put together a public process later this spring."

Naming things has been controversial in Long Beach, particularly in regards to the last two libraries opened. In 2016, Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson offered the name Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library for the new library on Atlantic Avenue. Richardson and city staff conducted public meetings about the name, with some opposition, before the City Council unanimously approved it.

Last year, essentially the same thing happened for the new Main Library downtown. Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce announced her choice of the Billie Jean King Main Library, then conducted public meetings before returning to the City Council for final approval. The Billie Jean King Main Library opened Sept. 21, 2019.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge connecting the Port of Long Beach and Terminal Island, opened in 1968. Gerald Desmond was a prominent Democratic politician who served on the Long Beach City Council, then was elected city attorney in 1960. He died in 1964, the year before bridge construction began, at the age of 48.

The new bridge has towers 515 feet high and three traffic lanes in each direction, as well as a bike lane and a lane for emergency stops. Its roadway is 205 feet above the water, allowing the largest cargo ships access to the inner harbor.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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