Last week, Greg Nadeau, Deputy Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, joined representatives from the State of California and the Port of Long Beach to launch the $950 million Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project. This bridge is a vital link between the Port and Los Angeles.
You see, the Port of Long Beach is the West Coast's 2nd busiest port, so the trucks coming and going over the Gerald Desmond Bridge carry more than 10 percent of our entire nation's waterborne cargo.
As the Port's Executive Director Richard Steinke said, ""This bridge has been the workhorse of the goods movement system."
Unfortunately, the 42-year-old bridge is deteriorating. With safety netting beneath its decks to keep debris from falling into the shipping channel, the bridge is no longer reliable enough to fulfill its function effectively.
The Gerald Desmond Bridge is a steel-and-concrete reminder of the connection between infrastructure and economic growth. The current bridge is only 155 feet high, too low to allow newer, taller cargo ships to pass safely beneath it.
The replacement will be 50 to 60 feet taller than the current bridge, making the shipping channel more accessible to today's cargo vessels, increasing the volume of imports and exports passing through the Port. And it will be wider to allow more trucks to carry more freight to and from the Port's ships. It will indeed be a "bridge to everywhere."
But even before the new bridge is complete, it will begin generating economic benefits by employing thousands of workers during the five years of its construction.
"We're building a landmark structure that will create jobs now and guarantee a stronger port and smoother transportation network for the future," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.
Strengthening our infrastructure, boosting our economy, and creating good jobs--all while helping reduce the emissions from thousands of trucks and commuters stuck every day in congested traffic. As Deputy Administrator Nadeau said, that's exactly the kind of project DOT is happy to support.
And no one recognizes the potential of infrastructure projects more than President Obama. Through the Recovery Act we’ve supported more than 14,000 road, rail, waterway and runway projects--creating tens of thousands of jobs and increasing our ability to move goods across America and around the world.
Now the President has proposed a six-year reauthorization of federal transportation programs, jump-started with an up-front investment of $50 billion in roads, rails and runways.
As the President says, we can rebuild America’s economy by rebuilding America. And we're doing just that with the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement project.