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

Over four years after the City Council approved a contract for the design of a replacement Shoemaker Bridge, the project is winding its way to completion with draft environmental documents now public.

The bridge connects Downtown Long Beach to the 710 Freeway via the eastbound Sixth Street exit. The project calls for the bridge to be replaced with a safer, more symmetrical and updated bridge to the south of the existing structure.

Contract for Shoemaker Bridge Replacement Design Approved by City Council

Three alternatives have been identified for the project, with one being the “no build” alternative that would leave the existing bridge unchanged. Option 2 would construct a newer bridge to the south and install a roundabout at the eastern exit while maintaining a portion of the old bridge as an automobile-free recreation area for pedestrians.

Option 3 would construct the same bridge structure as Option 2 but would demolish the old Shoemaker Bridge.

Plans for the new Shoemaker Bridge (red) would replace the old structure (green).

The documents are available online at the city’s website and can also be accessed in four locations, three of which are in Long Beach. The three-volume report outlines preliminary findings including that there have been no “areas of controversy” identified with the project as of now.

Replacing the Shoemaker Bridge is part of a series of early action projects associated with the potential future expansion of the 710 Freeway, which was approved by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority Board of Directors in March 2018. Unlike the controversial freeway project, the Shoemaker Bridge replacement project is not anticipated to require any acquisitions of residential properties to complete construction.

After Nearly Two Decades, Metro Board Approves $6 Billion Construction of 710 Freeway Improvements

While the 710 expansion project was over $4 billion short of the needed funding, early projects like onramp and offramp improvements, surface street enhancements and bridge replacements are moving forward. The cost of the bridge replacement is expected to range from $243 million to $391 million, depending on which option is selected, to be funded by Caltrans and the federal government.

Repositioning the bridge and its on and off-ramps is projected to make the bridge safer as the old design had been blamed in part for accidents because of its nonstandard weaving distances.

It’s also projected to result in a gain of net park space as the old bridge, if it stands, would create more recreation space. A greenbelt would also be installed to connect Drake Park with Cesar Chavez Park.

The project will be subject to state, federal and city oversight as it moves toward groundbreaking and is subject to federal funding. Physical copies of the documents can be found at the addresses below and comments can be submitted through email here. The public comment period will be open through Nov. 12.

Caltrans District 7 Office, 100 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Billie Jean King Main Library, 200 W. Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90802

Mark Twain Neighborhood Library, 1401 E. Anaheim Street, Long Beach, CA 90813

Public Works Department, 411 W. Ocean Boulevard, 5th Fl, Long Beach, 90802

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