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Demolition work begins to clear path for new Long Beach bridge

Several aging buildings came tumbling down Thursday on Terminal Island in the first of weeks of demolition work that will make way for a new, massive bridge at the Port of Long Beach.

The buildings, part of an old port maintenance yard build in the 1970s, were reduced to rubble by giant bulldozers. Port staff moved into a new maintenance building next to the port administration center last month.

Crews will continue to work for several weeks to level some 22 buildings that lie directly in the path of the new six-lane, 200-foot-high span that will connect the port and downtown Long Beach.

The old bridge, which has been known to have concrete chunks fall from its underbelly and is too low for many ships to navigate, is in desperate need of replacement.

The work is beginning as port crews continue to excavate a messy underground maze of retired oil wells and utilities in the bridge’s footprint, a process that has taken more than two years and fueled cost overruns on the $1.3 billion project.

The demolition phase, however, is proceeding on schedule, said port spokesman John Pope.

“They’re taking their giant Tonka toys and moving on down pretty fast,” Pope said. “It’s a nice time to wrap up the year with this kind of work and look forward to what’s coming.”

The replacement bridge, which hasn’t yet been named, is expected to open in 2016.

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Twitter: @cmaiduc

christine.maiduc@latimes.com

 

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