Built in 1954, the Shoemaker Bridge is set to be replaced by a newer, safer bridge. Photo by Jason Ruiz


The Shoemaker Bridge connects southbound traffic from the 710 Freeway to Downtown Long Beach. Photo by Jason Ruiz

The Shoemaker Bridge is set to be replaced after Long Beach City Council unanimously approved awarding the $4.7 million contract to a Long Beach-based engineering firm, which will begin the design process for a replacement bridge that services the west entrance to the city’s downtown area.

HDR Engineering Inc., the Long Beach firm that secured the bid, has an enormous portfolio of work with both national and international reach, including a medical facility in Abu Dhabi and the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge that was built to divert traffic and ease congestion on one of the country’s largest power generators.

Director of Public Works Ara Maloyan said his instructions to the design team are simple: to make it sustainable and that he’d “like to see the bridge on a U.S. stamp one day.” Along with the design of the new bridge, the project will also create more green space by incorporating the existing Shoemaker Bridge into the adjacent park space and add bike paths to allow commuters to travel over it.

The project is expected to create 800 local jobs, but the expected cost of $130 million to $200 million for the full repurposing of the old bridge will require significant state and local funding. Still, the beginning of an idea originally set in motion by a council vote in 2013 has First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez excited.

“This has been a long time in the making and we’re finally here,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a very large priority for the west side of the city and also for the district residents in the First District.”

The funding is being provided by the Measure R Early Action Program, which is part of the larger I-710 Corridor Project that was implemented by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In 2012, Metro set aside $5.5 million for a portion of the design process of the Shoemaker Bridge. The remaining $800,000 is expected to go toward program management and administrative support.

The overall design of the project is expected to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million, so the bid represents roughly the first 30 percent of the process. The remaining $12 million remains unfunded and the city is expected to seek out other avenues to pay for it. Because Measure R funds work in two phases, there is the potential for a large influx of funds in 2019 as nearly $600 million was allocated by the county for early action projects like the Shoemaker Bridge.

The bid process began in 2014 with HDR being one of four finalists. The vote by staff members to give HDR the bid was unanimous because of its past work on comparable engagements, expertise, financial stability, competence and conformity to the process. Maloyan said that the department is hopeful that the initial 30 percent of the design will be completed by 2017 with a final completion date of 2018. If funds are identified by city staff, construction on the Shoemaker Bridge could start in 2020.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @JasonRuiz_LB on Twitter.