|The bascule or "jackknife" bridge, probably in the 1910s.|
Since its earliest days in the 1910s, the Port of Long Beach has needed reliable access to Terminal Island. The first bridge from Long Beach to the island was a single railroad track built on a wooden trestle by the Salt Lake Railway. By 1908, though, it was clear something better (and something that didn't block access to Craig Shipyard) was needed. So in that year the trestle was replaced with a 187-foot bascule drawbridge, commonly referred to as the "jackknife" bridge, because it opened and closed just like a pocket knife.
The jackknife bridge was in place for years, but at some point during the mid-1930s it was removed when the Union Pacific stopped using it. Incredibly, there was no bridge there for several years, leaving the Badger Avenue Bridge (now known as the Henry Ford Bridge) over the Cerritos Channel as the only rail link to Terminal Island. (We'll have more on this bridge in Part 2 of this post.)
|Driving over the pontoon bridge had its ups and downs.|
In the 1960s, the pontoon bridge was replaced by the Gerald Desmond Bridge, which eliminated the need for a movable bridge and could handle much larger traffic volumes. These days, time and traffic have taken their toll on the Desmond (nets called "diapers" are placed underneath it to catch chunks of concrete), and the bridge is slated for replacement beginning next year. The new bridge will allow the largest post-Panamax ships to enter the Port, as well as accommodate more traffic. For more information on the replacement project, go to www.polb.com/bridge.
Read a Steve Harvey L.A. Times column about the pontoon bridge.
See a photo gallery of the Terminal Island bridges.
|Traffic congestion could be a problem sometimes.|