The California Department of Transportation removed a major chokepoint for marine traffic and freight while addressing significant seismic concerns – increasing safety and supporting the state’s economy.
The Schuyler F. Heim Bridge was constructed as a vertical lift bridge by the U.S. Navy in the late 1940s crossing over the Cerritos Channel. The bridge connects Terminal Island to the mainland in Southern California and services the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – a port complex that handles 40 percent of the nation’s imports. By 2011, the bridge was at the end of its useful life span and needed to be replaced. Completed in 2020, the new fixed-height, concrete, seven-lane bridge now meets the current seismic and roadway standards including embedded sensors that constantly send seismic activity data to our engineers. These improvements ensure emergency vehicles and trucks that support port operation can continue using the bridge even after a major earthquake. With the old bridge, traffic was halted as boats traveled through the channel due to the lifting and lowering of the old drawbridge. The new bridge provides clearance for fireboats and pleasure craft. Trade moving through the ports supports hundreds and thousands of jobs in the local region and now, thanks to the bridge, that trade moves a little faster. Funded by federal, state, and local sources, completion of construction signified the end of Caltrans’ Seismic Retrofit program that repaired or replaced more than 2,000 state and local bridges across the state.
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