Long Beach, CA – The Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach, California will allow a higher flow of vehicle traffic and a wider range of ship traffic across the Cerritos Channel. After the Panama Canal Expansion opened on June 26, 2016, the size limit of passing ships has increased. The result is a new global standard, deemed “New Panamax,” for major ports to accommodate these larger, more efficient ships. Since roughly 25 percent of the United States container trade passes through the Port of Long Beach, the bridge replacement project will allow the port to receive any ships that can pass through the Panama Canal. The 1.5 billion dollar project will use over 400,000 yards of concrete throughout construction. This concrete supplied by A&A Ready Mixed Concrete, Inc. will incorporate several Sika concrete admixtures.
We had the opportunity to take a tour of this project with A&A’s Kurt Caillier, President and CEO, and Jaret Ramirez, COO. A&A has set up a mobile ready mix plant to supply the massive demand for this project. Interestingly, a large portion of the concrete for the support columns will be underground. Using a two million dollar rotator machine, the ground is cleared of dirt and rock. Column casings are then lowered into the hole by German-made cranes that have the counterbalance capacity to stay upright. The bottoms of the holes are actually too deep for the crane operator to see, and so the skilled operators place the casings by feeling alone. Once the casings are in place, A&A trucks provide a steady stream of concrete to create the essential foundation for the bridge’s columns.
Using wooden framework, rebar is lifted between columns by a Mobile Scaffolding System, or MSS. This five million dollar machine was designed in Norway specifically for this project and will be disassembled after the project is finished. Using two girders and a truss to distribute load, the MSS can be moved to position the rebar in a desired location. Concrete is then poured over the rebar and additional post-tension cables to allow heavy cargo trucks to safely cross the bridge. Because bridge construction is often split into two projects, one on each side of the water, two MSS machines are being used.
When completed, the bridge will span over a mile long and will rise 205 feet from the water’s surface. This will allow the new generation of European cruise ships, South Korean oil tankers, and half-million-ton Middle-Eastern super tankers to enter the Port of Long Beach. The port has consistently been at the forefront of shipping technology in the United States. It currently has the largest battery charging station for trucks in the United States and the country’s first automatic, self-operating cranes for organizing shipping containers. With the help of A&A and Sika concrete admixtures the Port of Long Beach will continue to be one of the United States’ most important ports.
Check out the live stream of the construction process and here are more pictures of this great jobsite!