Though demolition of the Gerald Desmond Bridge wrapped up in late July, the old span will live on through a number of artifacts salvaged by the Port of Long Beach.
The 54-year-old bridge was replaced in 2020 by the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge, an eye-catching, cable-stayed span that provides more clearance for ships to pass underneath and includes a bike and pedestrian path.
Dismantling of the Gerald Desmond began in July 2022 and just over a year later, all that’s left to be done is paperwork to close out the demolition contract, according to information from Duane Kenagy, capital programs executive for the Long Beach port.
But what’s left of the bridge is plenty more than paperwork.
About 14,950 tons of steel from the span went to recyclers—that’s almost 99% of the steel used in the bridge.
Every bit of concrete and asphalt—all 53,000 tons—now resides at the port’s rubble recycling site, where it awaits use in future projects.
Hazardous material such as lead paint, asbestos and electrical circuitry for lights was sent to a landfill approved for those kinds of waste.
Port officials also kept some pieces, either for sentimental or utilitarian value, including three steel truss elements, “in case the Port would want to use it for an art or design project” someday, Kenagy said in an email.
Six navigation lights, 250 structural bolts and the “golden bolt,” installed by Gerald Desmond’s son at the bridge’s 1968 opening ceremony, also were saved and are now in storage.
The man for whom the bridge was named served on the Long Beach City Council and as city attorney; he died in 1964 before the bridge opened. The replacement project cost about $1.56 billion, and the new span is expected to last 100 years.