Port of Long Beach Officially Retires Decommissioned Bridge

With the Gerald Desmond Bridge in the background, Gerald Desmond Jr., Desmond family members Eileen Bryson & Margaret Bomberg, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, from left, mark the official retirement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge at a ceremony in the Port of Long Beach on May 7, 2022. Photo: POLB.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge, a transportation corridor that served the Port of Long Beach for more than 50 years by connecting Terminal Island with the city of Long Beach, was officially retired in a special ceremony on May 7.

The bridge, which opened in 1968, was named after a former Long Beach city attorney and city councilman who helped secure funding to build the 5,134-foot-long through-arch bridge that connected Long Beach and Terminal Island. Desmond died in January 1964, when the bridge that would be eventually named for him was still under construction.

The Gerald Desmond Bridge was decommissioned when its replacement, called the Long Beach International Gateway, opened to traffic in October 2020. An outlook on the new bridge will be named in Desmond’s honor, according to port officials.

Removal of the Gerald Desmond Bridge’s main span was previously rescheduled to an as-yet undetermined date in the future, but the retirement ceremony was held in early May as originally planned.

“The Gerald Desmond Bridge has been a landmark of our city and an important part of our region’s infrastructure for over 50 years,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who attended the retirement ceremony. “We have come an incredible way since it opened in 1968 and it’s played an important role in the growth of Long Beach and success of the port.”

The Gerald Desmond Bridge’s replacement, the Long Beach International Gateway. Photo: Port of Long Beach.

Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero wasn’t able to attend the ceremony in person, but said in a statement that “Gerald Desmond will always be remembered for securing the Tidelands oil funds that were needed to help pay for a bridge that helped the Port of Long Beach grow to where we are today.”

“We hope that this retirement ceremony is a fitting tribute to his legacy and for the Desmond family as we look ahead to the next chapter for this port complex,” he added.

“We bid a fond farewell to a bridge that helped the port thrive in a competitive industry, and honor the man for whom it was named,” Long Beach Harbor Commission President Steven Neal said in a prepared statement. “We will always remember Gerald Desmond for the contributions he made to this city and this port.”

Back when the bridge was dedicated in 1968, Desmond’s son, Gerald “Jerry” Desmond Jr. tightened a bolt to one of the arches on the bridge bearing his father’s name. A video presented during the retirement ceremony showed Desmond Jr. retrieving the specially crafted bolt as part of the bridge’s retirement.

“My father was dedicated to fighting for and preserving the rights and interests of the City of Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach,” Desmond Jr. said. “Our family was deeply honored when the bridge was named for him, and we were happy to honor him once again during the bridge retirement ceremony.”