New Port of Long Beach bridge opens with clean truck parade

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trucks crossing new long beach bridge
The first truck to cross the bridge was a Volvo Trucks North America Class 8 VNR Electric truck representing NFI. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A convoy of low-emission and electric trucks took the first drive across the newly completed Port of Long Beach bridge on Friday, Oct. 2.

The $1.47 billion structure replaces and dwarfs the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge over a major channel in the Port of Long Beach. The bridge will serve Southern California’s massive twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The convoy consisted of seven fleet operators—NFI, Total Transportation Solutions, Inc. (TTSI), MDB Transportation, Tradelink Transport, Pacific 9 Transportation, Overseas Freight, and Green Trucking—who collectively operate 157 natural gas heavy-duty trucks that log more than 6.4 million miles per year, hauling freight daily to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The first truck to cross the bridge was a Volvo Trucks North America Class 8 VNR Electric truck representing NFI. It was joined by a second Volvo VNR Electric truck from Dependable Highway Express (DHE). The two fleets, partners in the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project, are piloting Volvo Trucks’ battery-electric models through 2021.

“The ports have been a fantastic partner in the Volvo LIGHTS project, helping us to assess infrastructure needs to encourage early adoption of battery-electric trucks at California’s ports,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

The new Port of Long Beach bridge—a 7-year joint effort with Caltrans, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)— provides greater access for larger cargo ships to enter the port’s inner harbor terminals and provide expanded capacity for truck traffic. Combined, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle nearly 40% of the nation’s total containerized import traffic and 25% of its total exports.

Long Beach Mayor and Volvo Trucks
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia waved a checkered flag to signal a ceremonial convoy of trucks and other vehicles to cross the bridge. (Courtesy: Volvo Trucks North America)

“This is an amazing day and it’s a colossal achievement,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia before waving a checkered flag to signal a ceremonial convoy of trucks and other vehicles to cross the span.

The cable-stayed bridge was designed to be high enough — 205 feet (62.48 meters) above the water — to allow the largest container ships to pass underneath.

Eighty cables strung from two 515-foot-tall (156.9-meter) towers hold up the road deck.

Nearly 2 miles (3.22 kilometers) long, the replacement bridge has three lanes in each direction, plus emergency lanes and bicycle and pedestrian paths. Designed to be highly resilient to earthquakes, it is intended to last 100 years. Construction began in 2013.

The old, four-lane bridge built in the 1960s currently carries 15% of all containerized goods coming into the U.S. It will be demolished.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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