Renderings Courtesy of the City of Long Beach.
The idea began in the years the TED conference was held in Long Beach: a walkway to bridge the Terrace Theater patio with the walkway leading from Ocean Avenue to the Long Beach Convention Center.
“After many years, we are actually pulling various pieces together. This pedestrian bridge doesn’t stand on its own,” said Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal at the kickoff event celebrating the beginning of the bridge’s construction while tractors and cranes swung pilings around the empty lot between Ocean Avenue and Seaside Way.
“If you recall, we had the TED conference here a few years ago; they were here for five years,” said Lowenthal. “One of the things that they asked for—and they love Long Beach, don’t get me wrong, they love Long Beach—it was really difficult for their participants to go from one aspect of the downtown to another, kind of thing, and it was something they had suggested, they said that ‘wouldn’t it be great if they could move around easily, so that we weren’t sending them all the way around the building several blocks to get to the entrance.”
And so the Seaside Way Pedestrian Project was thusly born.
The plan for the 605-foot bridge is expected to reach $9.3 million in construction costs and $11.1 million total. Its signature feature includes a glass, gradually sloping canopy with LED accent lights over the walkway. Construction began last month and is expected to be completed in February 2017. The bridge will stand alongside a new residential development set to be built at 207 Seaside Way.
“It’s a seaside town—it was conceived to be a canopy like a breaking wave,” said Project Manager Eric Lopez. “It’s a unique feature that we think adds vibrancy to the city.”
Photos by Keeley Smith.
“With viewing points and cell phone charging stations, this will be more than just a bridge,” said Lowenthal. “It will be a community gathering place offering retreat and respite from the daily rhythms of life.”
Neighboring residents like those within the Aqua Towers may be relieved that an above-ground route exists when traveling from their building to the convention center, instead of around the City National Bank property.
As for the price tag, the funding will come out of the Tidelands Operations Fund and is solely dedicated to “operations, programs, maintenance and development of the marinas, beaches and waterways, the Convention Center the Queen Mary and adjacent properties, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Rainbow Harbor Area.” Other purposes for the funds include marina management, police, fire and lifeguards, beach and marina maintenance, lease management, parking operations and other support functions.
“This will be another feature of downtown,” said Derya Thompson, an associate principal of the architectural firm, ARUP, working on the project. “It will be an iconic bridge and hopefully another meeting point.”
The project’s designer, Adam Sauer, said the trees included on the bridge are meant to evoke “vegetation, growth and changing seasons [...] highlighted by the green elements.”
“The bridge will serve as a landmark within the Convention Center Complex and greater Downtown area,” said Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “It will also help our economy by [stimulating] tourism in Long Beach and by making it easier for conventioneers to access the Performing Arts Center.”