Separated at Berth: the Gerald Desmond Bridge Doppelganger

Last month, Bob Atkinson from North Reading, Mass., brought his father out to a crew reunion at the U.S.S. Iowa. They stayed at a hotel in Long Beach, and during each of the five days of their trip, they traveled over the Gerald Desmond Bridge to go to San Pedro. As they drove over the current bridge, Bob marveled at the similarities between it and one near his hometown, called the John Greenleaf Whittier Memorial Bridge (pictured above).

The John Greenleaf Whittier Memorial Bridge carries Interstate 95 across the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Mass. The bridge was dedicated in 1954 to honor the acclaimed 19th century poet and abolitionist from Haverhill, Mass. Like the Gerald Desmond Bridge, it is a through arch bridge, where the base of the semi-circular arch structure is mounted below the road deck, and the top of the arch rises above deck. Motorists travel within the arch structure.

Both bridges are painted similar colors of green. And both bridges have outlived their intended use. In fact, the old Whittier Bridge was replaced with a new bridge in 2018 that provides an extra travel lane in each direction, with new breakdown lanes, and a dedicated pathway with a scenic overlook for bicyclists and pedestrians crossing the Merrimack River. Sound familiar to the Port of Long Beach Bridge Project?

A special thanks goes out to Bob for sharing the interesting similarities between the Gerald Desmond Bridge and its “distant cousin” bridge on the other side of the country.