The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners last week unanimously approved the Environmental Impact Report for the project to replace the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge at the Port of Long Beach with a new, nearly $1-billion span. The Port of Long Beach, in partnership with Caltrans, will oversee the project to design and build a higher, wider bridge that would be parallel to and just north of the existing Gerald Desmond Bridge. Once the new bridge is completed and open, the old structure would be taken down. The project will generate an average of 4,000 jobs a year during the expected five to six years of construction. Parsons/HTNB has been contracted for the preliminary design work, which is about 25% complete, according to port spokesman John Pope. “We’re looking at a design-build plan to finish the rest,” he says. The new bridge will have three traffic lanes, plus emergency lanes in both directions, and will be higher to allow for the newest generation of green cargo ships to pass underneath. The preliminary bridge-type selection features a 2,000-ft-long cable-stayed structure with single-mast towers, shear links, a composite deck and approach viaducts with 270-ft maximum spans. A draft RFP is expected to be completed in April 2011, followed by a Caltrans/FHWA review and approval, as well as the selection of the winning bid in late 2011.