Building Up and Tearing Down: Pair of Infrastructure Projects in Works at Port of Long Beach

Building Up and Tearing Down: Pair of Infrastructure Projects in Works at Port of Long Beach
Old Gerald Desmond Bridge, in front of larger replacement bridge, will be demolished.

Two infrastructure projects are in the works at the Port of Long Beach: a new energy microgrid and the demolition of the old Gerald Desmond Bridge.
Construction started earlier this month on the microgrid project, which will consist of a 300-kilowatt photovoltaic solar panel array that will convert sunlight into electricity for the port’s security headquarters with a connection to provide resilience to Jacobsen Pilot Service Inc., the Long Beach company that guides cargo vessels in the port.

The $12.2 million grid, which is scheduled for commissioning in November, is partially funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission.
The microgrid system will be able to generate about 520 megawatt hours a year, allowing crucial port operations to work uninterrupted during a power outage. The project is anticipated to save the port more than $60,000 annually on electricity costs; it also will reduce the port’s reliance on diesel generators to produce electricity during outages.“It is vital that we improve energy resilience as we move toward zero-emission equipment that will allow us to enhance air quality while moving a record number of cargo containers,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.

The prime contractor on the project is Schneider Electric, which is headquartered in Rueil-Malmaison, France. Los Alamitos-based Neubauer Electric Inc. will install the solar arrays and related microgrid components.
While the microgrid will go up, an old bridge is about to come down. The original Gerald Desmond Bridge, which opened in 1968, served as the main connector between Terminal Island and the main Long Beach shoreline for 52 years until it was set aside for the much bigger and higher replacement bridge that opened in October 2020.

On Feb. 25, the port announced the demolition of the old bridge will begin in May and last through the end of 2023.
“The Gerald Desmond Bridge helped this port complex become one of the busiest in the world,” port executive director Cordero said.

The port awarded a $59.9 million demolition contract in July 2021 to Kiewit West Inc. (a unit of Omaha, Neb.-based Kiewit Corp.), to dismantle and remove main steel truss spans, steel plate girder approaches, abutments, columns, access ramps, foundations and other pieces of the old bridge.

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Howard Fine
Howard Fine is a 23-year veteran of the Los Angeles Business Journal. He covers stories pertaining to healthcare, biomedicine, energy, engineering, construction, and infrastructure. He has won several awards, including Best Body of Work for a single reporter from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers and Distinguished Journalist of the Year from the Society of Professional Journalists.

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