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Badger Avenue Bridge
Aerial view of open bridge

Constructed in 1924, the Henry Ford Bridge (also known as the Badger Avenue Bridge) provided the only railroad link to Terminal Island from the mainland between 1934 and 1996, when the current bridge replaced it. Prior to 1934, Terminal Island (formerly known as Rattlesnake Island) was served by various railroad bridges. Essential to the business of early shipping of bulky items over land, a number of local and nationwide rail operators provided railroad passage to and from Terminal Island. Over the life of the Henry Ford Bridge, the operators who maintained rail access to Terminal Island included the Los Angeles Terminal Railroad Company; the San Pedro, Los Angeles, & Salt Lake Railroad Company (later changed to Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad Company); the Union Pacific Company; and the Harbor Belt Line.

Aerial view of partially open bridge

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, have historically operated independently of each and compete for the movement of cargo. However, they do collaborate on projects as the need requires. One example was the 1918 collaboration effort between the two ports to dredge a relatively narrow ditch and turn it into Cerritos Channel. This effort made regular navigation and shipping between the two ports possible. Ship passage around Terminal Island is important in that it allows ships to pass between the two ports without having to pass into San Pedro Bay.

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The placement of the Henry Ford Bridge across the Cerritos Channel and adjacent to the modern Terminal Island Freeway resulted largely as a result of a lack of other available access points to Terminal Island. During the 1880s, the Southern Pacific Railroad dominated the San Pedro and Wilmington side of the Los Angeles harbor area, and thereby restricted other carriers' access to the western portion of the island. Additionally, inferior bridges already occupied many desirable crossing points to Terminal Island at the time of the completion of the Henry Ford Bridge.