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Detours utilized near downtown in preparation of demolishing old 710 connector ramp

Officials urge safe driving as crews continue work on bridge-replacement project

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Cory Bilicko | Signal Tribune
Trucks travel Wednesday morning along a detour route under a segment of a newly built transition ramp that will eventually connect to the 710 Freeway. The old connector ramp, which is adjacent to the new one, will soon be demolished so the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project can be completed.

Motorists seeking access to the northbound 710 Freeway from the downtown area this weekend should be prepared for detours, as the current transition ramp for vehicles traveling east from Terminal Island along Ocean Boulevard will be permanently closed at 9pm Saturday. The connector will soon be demolished to make space for a new ramp for the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, according to officials from that project and the Port of Long Beach.

A few hours after the transition ramp is closed, eastbound Ocean Boulevard will be shut down at the SR-47 interchange so that crews can install the final components of the ramp closure and detour, officials said. On Sunday, a new detour route will open to traffic heading north onto the 710.

That detour will divert vehicles that are eastbound on the bridge, and heading north to the freeway, onto northbound Pico Avenue, where they will travel about half a mile before rejoining the northbound 710. Officials say the detour route will have three left-turn lanes for traffic leaving the bridge and turning north onto Pico at a lighted intersection.

That detour will be effective for about a year, until the new bridge is completed and accessible to traffic. During a press preview Wednesday morning, Duane Kenagy, interim deputy executive director for the Port of Long Beach, said the bridge is expected to be open by summer of 2019.

“We’ve made a lot of significant progress, and we’re now into kind of the final phase of the project,” Kenagy told the Signal Tribune, during a drive up to the entrance ramp that is still under construction. “The approach structures are well along. We’re going to drive up on the westbound approach structure, which is completed on both sides of Terminal Island. We’re working now on the main span of the bridge. We have the pier tables, the first segments of the main span lifted into place, and the one on the east side is actually supported by the first four cables.”

Map shows the long-term detour for connecting to the northbound 710 Freeway from the downtown area

Maps courtesy Port of LB
Map shows the detour that will be in place for accessing the area near the Queen Mary July 4–6

Kenagy explained that the new structure, with a deck that is 205 feet above the water, will be the first vehicular cable-stayed bridge in California. With two towers that reach 515 feet high– nearly as tall as the Washington Monument– the structure will be the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the country.

“It’ll be an iconic addition to the skyline of Long Beach,” he said. “It’ll be a bridge everyone can be extremely proud of.”

He added that, in the engineering field, it is considered a “signature bridge,” similar to the Golden Gate Bridge, in that it will symbolize the city’s identity.

Kenagy also boasted some of the safety features of the bridge, particularly compared to the one it’s replacing.

“One of the problems with the existing bridge is that it doesn’t have safety shoulders,” he said. “So, we’re improving the roadway geometry. We’ll have full three lanes each direction with safety shoulders on both sides, so, if there is an issue on the bridge, emergency services can get there and respond in a timely manner. Today, if there’s an incident on the bridge, it’s very difficult to get to. They actually have to sometimes go past and come back the wrong way. It can take a lot of time.”

Also at the construction site Wednesday morning was Sgt. Mike Watson with the Long Beach Harbor Patrol, who emphasized the need for safe driving in the area while the bridge is being built and various detours are put into place.

“The first thing we’d really like to emphasize is that we have thousands of people who commute through this area on a daily basis, and we want to let them know that this is a detour– it is going to add time to their commute,” Watson said. “So, they should plan ahead [and] make sure they’re driving slower through the construction zone. You have workers working all around them. We just want to make sure everyone is safe in the area. We’re going to have plenty of agencies– Long Beach PD, Long Beach Harbor Patrol, CHP– all in the area monitoring traffic and making sure it flows safely. But take into account there will be extra time involved.”

Drivers can expect more short-term road closures near the site as crews begin demolishing the northbound connector ramp, officials said. The first will occur July 4–6 on Harbor Scenic Drive, which passes under the current connector. Southbound Harbor Scenic Drive is the main route from the southbound 710 to the Queen Mary, cruise lines, hotels and Piers F–J. Officials are recommending that motorists wishing to access these areas use southbound 710 to the “Downtown Long Beach” exit and Shoreline Drive.

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Detours utilized near downtown in preparation of demolishing old 710 connector ramp