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Vincent Thomas Bridge

Vincent Thomas, Bridge, San Pedro, Terminal Island

Photo courtesy of Tucker Axum III

Some Facts About the Vincent Thomas Bridge
(between Terminal Island & San Pedro)

Type: Suspension
Opened: November 15, 1963
Cost: $21 million (valued $211 million in 2024)
Length: 6,050 feet (1.1 miles or 1,844 meters)
Main suspension span: 1,500 feet or 457 meters
Spans on both sides: 500 feet each or 152 meters
Height of Towers: 365 feet or 111 meters
Vertical Clearance: 185 feet or 56 meters
Width: 52 feet (16 meters)
Daily Vehicle Traffic: Average 58,000 daily (2021)

Designed to withstand 90 mph winds (double code requirements)

Construction of the bridge required:

  • 92,000 tons of Portland cement
  • 13,000 tons of lightweight concrete
  • 14,100 tons of steel
  • 1,270 tons of suspension cable

The main span of the Vincent Thomas Bridge is 1,500 feet long as compared to the Golden Gate Bridge at 4,200 feet long.

Vincent Thomas Bridge is named for Vincent Thomas, former California Assemblyman, Democrat, 52nd District, San Pedro. Thomas moved to San Pedro from Oakland in 1919. In 1928, he graduated from San Pedro High School. He received a Bachelor Degree from the University of Santa Clara in 1932 and attended the University of Santa Clara and Loyola Law Schools from 1932 to 1936. He worked as a minor sports coach and PE instructor while in college. He also played football for Santa Clara. He was married and had a daughter and son. He was elected to the California Assembly in 1940. In 1962, he was elevated to Dean of the Assembly. He also served as Chairman of the Committee on Intergovernmental Relations. He was still in the Assembly when his namesake bridge opened in 1963. He was the individual most responsible for its realization. He served in the Assembly at least through 1975.

Before the Vincent Thomas Bridge came to be, Terminal Island was reached by ferry from San Pedro. It was said that boys were known to swim across the channel to the island in order to avoid paying the five-cent fare. They entrusted their clothes to one of their number who actually boarded the ferry.