Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge

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Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge
Commodore Schuyler F Heim Bridge 2003.jpg
Coordinates 33°45′58″N 118°14′23″W / 33.766111°N 118.239722°W / 33.766111; -118.239722Coordinates: 33°45′58″N 118°14′23″W / 33.766111°N 118.239722°W / 33.766111; -118.239722
Carries State Route 47
Crosses Cerritos Channel,
Port of Los Angeles
Locale Los Angeles, California
Design Vertical-lift bridge
Total length 700 ft (210 m)[1] (4,000 ft including approach viaducts)[2]:20
Width 81 feet (25 m) (including 75 ft for the six traffic lanes)[2]:21
Height 236 feet (72 m) tall (186 ft (57 m) above roadway)[2]:21
Longest span 240 feet (73 m)[2]
Clearance below 175 feet (53 m)[2]:14 fully raised
Opened January 10, 1948
Closed October 12, 2015

The Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge was a vertical-lift bridge in the Port of Los Angeles. Dedicated on January 10, 1948,[3] the bridge allowed State Route 47 (the Terminal Island Freeway) to cross over the Cerritos Channel. It was one of the largest vertical-lift bridges on the West Coast.[2] At the time of its opening, it was the highest in the country with the desk weighing about 820-tons.[1] Its towers are 186 feet (57 m) tall above the roadway deck and about 236 feet (72 m) tall when measured from the water level at high water. The bridge was decommissioned on October 12th, 2015 and will be replaced by a new, six-lane fixed-span[4] bridge in order to meet current safety and earthquake standards. [5] The new, unnamed bridge will be completed late 2016. [6] The removal of the iconic, emerald green towers across the Cerritos channel will be completed by early 2016.


The deck of the bridge was an open grid design to decrease weight and ease lifting of the bridge to allow ship traffic to pass underneath.[7] The bridge used 400+ ton counterweights to lift the deck span portion to allow tall-masted vessels underneath.[8] The state of California took over operation of the bridge from the city of Los Angeles in 1964.[1] As of 1988, the bridge was being raised frequently, about 8,500 times per year.[1]

State Route 47 and the connecting State Route 103 are heavily used by trucks to bypass part of the crowded Interstate 710 freeway. Due to the large amount of heavy truck traffic over the bridge, the deck was subject to excessive wear. The deck was completely replaced in 1997 but was still under extreme distress. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) installed eight experimental fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) panels and attached sensors to test stress, load bearing, and temperature variations of the panels to determine their effectiveness as a permanent replacement.[9] Chicago-based engineering firm CTLGroup installed strain gages and thermocouples within the layers of the FRP. Each month, technicians perform a remote static load test of the bridge, providing direction to onsite Caltrans staff while monitoring real-time data from the firm's Chicago office.

Construction began in 1946. The Chief Engineer for the project until October 1947 was H. E. Wilson. The bridge was named in honor of Commodore Schuyler Franklin Heim, who was put in charge of the Naval Operating Base on Terminal Island in 1942.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The bridge is seen in the opening credits of the American television series Mannix. Mike Connors, playing Joe Mannix, is seen running across the bridge.
  • It was also seen on an episode of the 1970s TV series Emergency!.
  • The bridge plays a key role in the plot of the 2010 film Inception.
  • A representation of the bridge is shown in the fictional city of Los Santos in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Woodyard, Chris (October 27, 1988). "Caltrans Begins $2-Million Project to Shore Up Aging Drawbridge in Harbor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Christina Chiang; Jeremy Hollins; Melanie Lytle (January 2011). "HAER no. CA-HEIM: Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge" (pdf). Historic American Engineering Record. National Park Service. OCLC 713657277. 
  3. ^ "High Lift Bridge Dedicated at Terminal Island", Los Angeles Times, January 11, 1948, p. 14.
  4. ^ "District 7 Projects" Template:Cite url=
  5. ^ "Last Lift of the Heim Bridge" Template:Cite url=
  6. ^ "Update on Schuyler Heim Bridge" Template:Cite url=
  7. ^ "Commodore Schuyler F. Heim Bridge in action" Template:Cite url=
  8. ^ "Port of Los Angeles" Template:Cite url= 103.asp
  9. ^ "Schuyler Heim Bridge Deck Instrumentation". CTLGroup. Retrieved April 27, 2006.