Vincent Thomas Bridge

The Vincent Thomas Bridge is a 1,500-foot (460 m) long suspension bridge, opened in 1963, crossing the Los Angeles Harbor in the U.S. state of California, linking San Pedro, Los Angeles, with Terminal Island. The bridge is signed as part of State Route 47. It is named for California Assemblyman Vincent Thomas of San Pedro. It is the fourth longest suspension bridge in California. It is also the bridge with the 76th longest span in the world. The clear height of the navigation channel is approximately 185 ft.

History and description

The bridge was built to replace the ferries that connected San Pedro and Terminal Island, in anticipation of increased traffic volume accompanying growth of the port. State legislator Vincent Thomas, representing San Pedro, was the bridge's champion. A special act of the legislature was required in order to name the bridge after Thomas while he was still in office.

Throughout the bridge's construction and in the early years after its opening, it was derided as a "bridge to nowhere". In the 1970s, however, its importance drastically increased as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach displaced those of the San Francisco Bay Area as the principal port on the U.S. West Coast. Today, the Vincent Thomas Bridge carries a considerable volume of truck traffic from the southernmost slips of the Port of Los Angeles, in San Pedro, onto the Terminal Island Freeway and eventually to the southern end of the Long Beach Freeway; from there, freight goes from the port complex to the rail yards of East Los Angeles and the Inland Empire.

When the bridge opened in 1963, the toll was 25 cents in each direction, with the toll plaza on the Terminal Island side. In 1983, the toll increased to 50 cents for westbound traffic but became free for eastbound traffic. By 2000, the Vincent Thomas Bridge was one of only two toll bridges remaining in Southern California (the other being the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in San Diego), during which year tolls on the Vincent Thomas Bridge were eliminated. After the San Diego-Coronado Bridge stopped collecting tolls in 2002, the California Department of Transportation was able to devolve authority over toll bridges to the Bay Area Toll Authority in June 2005.

In January 2005, after 17 years of planning and fundraising, the bridge was illuminated with blue LED lights, powered by solar panels. There are 160 lights on the bridge and it is the first combined use of solar power and LEDs in a bridge lighting installation. The lights operate from dusk to midnight to minimize impact on wildlife.

On October 26, 1990, 1964 Olympic diving bronze medalist Larry Andreasen was killed jumping from the west tower of the bridge in an attempt to set a diving record.

The Catalina Terminal (Berth 95), the location for all of San Pedro's departing ferries and helicopters to Santa Catalina Island, is located underneath the western part of the bridge.

In popular culture
  • The Vincent Thomas Bridge is featured in the main chase scene of the original version of the film Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), starring and produced by H. B. Halicki. It is also featured in the climax of the 2000 remake of Gone in 60 Seconds, starring Nicolas Cage.
  • The bridge appears in the television series CHiPs, in a 1977 episode titled "Taking Its Toll".
  • The bridge is occasionally visible in opening scenes of the television series The Love Boat (1977–1986), as Princess Cruise Lines' Los Angeles passenger terminal was (and still is) located near the bridge.
  • The bridge can also be seen in the television series Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986). Although the show was set in San Francisco at the fictitious San Francisco Memorial Hospital, the hospital used for exterior shots was the Little Company of Mary Hospital on 7th Street in San Pedro, California, from which the Vincent Thomas Bridge can be seen. Thus, the bridge appears in some episodes as a "faux Golden Gate Bridge" despite its obvious differences in color, size and design.
  • The 1985 film To Live and Die in L.A. makes extensive use of the bridge. Early in the film, Richard Chance (William Petersen), on a bet, jumps off the bridge using a safety line. The bridge can be seen in the background from the house of Chance's girlfriend/informant Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel). During the end credits, a continuous shot shows the bridge being crossed in the eastbound direction.
  • The bridge appears in a scene of the 2000 film Charlie's Angels in which Cameron Diaz and Crispin Glover face off in two race cars.
  • The bridge is seen in a scene in the 2003 film National Security, starring Martin Lawrence and Steve Zahn.
  • The bridge is featured in numerous scenes throughout the 2007 film Shelter, which is largely set in San Pedro. Various camera shots of and from the main character's house include a view of the bridge and the surrounding Terminal Island/Port of Los Angeles/Port of Long Beach.
  • The bridge was also featured in a 2008 episode of the television series America's Toughest Jobs, titled "Bridge Crew", where the contestants each had to work doing various repairs to the bridge.
  • The bridge is referenced in the song "Paper Cunts" from the 2009 album Cryptomnesia by El Grupo Nuevo de Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. "The earth is flat when your day is night/ all of a sudden they bleach your skin/ dumping from the Vincent Thomas bridge/ The case ain't settled this place ain't fit/ has the donor started asking questions yet?"
  • The bridge is shown briefly at the end of the 1985 film Secret Admirer, starring C. Thomas Howell, Lori Loughlin, and Kelly Preston.
  • The bridge is also in a scene in the 1995 film Heat starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer. In the film the bridge is misidentified as the "St. Vincent Thomas Bridge".
  • The bridge is featured on the cover of Tyler Dilts' novel "A King of Infinite Space" featuring Long Beach homicide detective Danny Beckett.
  • Vincent Thomas Bridge

  • Vincent Thomas Bridge

  • Vincent Thomas Bridge and the Port of Los Angeles

  • Vincent Thomas Bridge illuminated with blue LED lights

  • The Vincent Thomas bridge in San Pedro, California (L.A. Basin) viewed from 11,500 feet. A Carnival Lines cruise ship is seen in dock. The Liberty Ship, SS Lane Victory is also visible, moored between the cruise ship and the bridge.


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Building Activity

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