See Long Beach’s Signature Bridge Under Construction
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Standing on a tiny platform hundreds of feet above the Port of Long Beach, Duane Kenagy peered out at the bridge that has for the last several years been his life’s work.
“This is a massive undertaking,” he said, surveying the concrete and steel, the ships and containers below.
They looked a bit like toys, neatly arranged in rows. But, of course, this wasn’t the case.
We were looking down at real stuff — millions of dollars’ worth — bound for destinations around the country. And it had to get there from the port somehow.
That’s why Mr. Kenagy was there: to oversee the replacement of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, a $1.47 billion construction project that’s been underway since 2013 and is set to be complete in the middle of next year.
“We’re in the homestretch now,” he said this week.
The original Gerald Desmond Bridge, which carries the 710 freeway from downtown Long Beach over the port’s inner harbor to Terminal Island, was designed and built in the 1960s, before containerization had fully transformed shipping. Over its years of use, it has become functionally obsolete, officials said — even as trucks continue to rumble across, bringing 15 percent of the nation’s incoming waterborne cargo.
The replacement bridge will expand that capacity. It’s just one part of a $4 billion, 10-year port improvement plan and includes a designated bike and pedestrian path with scenic overlooks.
Mr. Kenagy served as our primary tour guide. While we took an elevator up and up, to the top of one of the towers along the bridge’s length, he explained that some of the bridge’s most innovative features were actually built into its foundation, which extends 17 stories underground.
In addition to special hinges, joints and gigantic concrete piles made to move in the event of an earthquake, the bridge was also outfitted with 77 accelographs to monitor seismic activity and transmit that data.
[Read more about how buildings can be designed to withstand earthquakes.]
John Wallace, a professor at U.C.L.A. who specializes in earthquake engineering, told me that back when the original bridge was built, there was really no way to design bridges for seismic safety. During the big earthquakes in the decades that followed, bridges failed.
Today, things are different, he said: “It’s like night and day.”
So when officials have the rare opportunity to spend a billion and a half dollars constructing what they say will be a signature bridge for Southern California, Professor Wallace said it’s also an unusual chance to gather real-time information outside a lab setting.
“Projects like this — and really tall buildings — when we instrument them and monitor them in time, they’re unique opportunities to look at the response before earthquakes occur and measure afterward,” he said. “We get information that allows us to improve our knowledge and designs in the future.”
Here’s what else we’re following
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Within minutes of announcing that Democrats would charge President Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi was informing her rank and file that she was ready to deliver his biggest economic priority: passage of a new trade deal. [The New York Times]
Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, is set to make his first presidential campaign visit to California, where the up-and-coming progressive star Michael Tubbs, Stockton’s mayor, said he’d endorse him. The pair are set to appear together in Stockton. [The San Francisco Chronicle]
President Trump plans to sign an executive order effectively interpreting Judaism a nationality, not a religion, which would allow the federal government to withhold money to academic institutions that boycott Israel. [The New York Times]
A coalition of students and advocacy groups, along with a largely black and Hispanic school district, sued the University of California system in an effort to prevent it from using the SAT and ACT in admissions. If it’s successful, it could shake up the testing industry. [The New York Times]
U.C. Berkeley has a new class for undergrads: Adulting. It’s part of a growing recognition that students who are academically equipped for college may be unprepared for life off campus. [The Los Angeles Times]
The authorities detained six people, including two doctors, who were blocking an entrance to the U.S. Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector headquarters in Chula Vista. They were part of a larger demonstration aimed at getting federal officials to allow doctors to give detained migrant children flu vaccines after three died from the illness in custody last year. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
Los Angeles County Democrats endorsed George Gascon, the former district attorney of San Francisco who stepped down to challenge Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles’s current district attorney. [The Los Angeles Times]
A blueberry grower based in Delano has been ordered to pay $3.5 million related to workplace violations. An investigation by federal labor officials turned up misuses of the H-2A visa program and the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, aimed at allowing employers experiencing a U.S. worker shortage to hire temporary workers from abroad. [The Fresno Bee]
Plus.ai, a Silicon Valley start-up, said its self-driving truck had completed its first coast-to-coast commercial freight trip, from Tulare to Quakertown, Pa. The truck was carrying 40,000 pounds of Land O’Lakes butter. [The Sacramento Bee]
In San Francisco, though, city officials are now requiring businesses to get permits before they test out high-tech ideas in public. [The Associated Press]
What happens at a tea ceremony? (Which is to say, a tea ceremony hosted by a former model and actress mostly attended by other wealthy white women who run in L.A.’s wellness circles?) Read on to find out. Fair warning: You will almost certainly have feelings about it. [The New York Times]
Fresno’s Swede Fest started as an homage to Michel Gondry’s 2008 film “Be Kind Rewind.” The idea was simple: Make your own low-budget parody of popular movies or TV shows. Use your family and friends as actors. And voilà: Hilarity. The latest installment is on Friday. [The Fresno Bee]
What makes great professional performers great? Here’s the annual list of the year’s 10 best actors exploring that question. [The New York Times Magazine]
In many parts of California, the car is the most convenient place to have a good cry outside the privacy of your own home. For San Franciscans, that may not be the case. So here’s a list of the best places in the city to cry in public. [Curbed San Francisco]
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter, @jillcowan.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
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