LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — A new bridge that will connect Long Beach to the world officially opens Friday with a flyover of military planes, a boat parade, and a procession of zero-emission and low-emission cargo trucks.

The six-lane, cable-stayed bridge replaces the Gerald Desmond Bridge and will be a major regional highway connector as well as improve the movement of cargo.

(credit: CBS)

The bridge, which has not yet been named, has two towers reaching 515 feet into the sky and will be the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the United States, port officials said. It is also larger than the shorter, narrower Gerald Desmond Bridge, which currently carries 15% of all container goods coming into the U.S.

“This bridge has the most advanced seismic technology of any structure in the country,” said Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach. “This bridge has a lifespan 100 years. So yes, we’ve come a long way in terms of what this bridge represents now, in terms of safety and efficiency.”

The bridge project began in 2013 to clear a path for the new structure, port officials said. The $1.47 billion, nearly two-mile bridge project also includes the eventual demolition of the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge.

Because of the continuing pandemic, there were no crowds allowed to watch the ribbon cutting, the flyover, or the boat parade of fire boats spraying water. But a ceremony was broadcast on the websites of the Port of Long Beach, the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, and the City of Long Beach, and Long Beach’s public television channels, which port officials say provided the best views of all of Friday’s activities.

The new bridge will remain closed to the public during the ceremony.

Traffic routes leading to the Gerald Desmond Bridge will be closed Friday afternoon through Monday morning to allow construction crews to switch lanes over to the new cable-stayed bridge and open the new route.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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