LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden made a return to Southern California on Thursday as part of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, touring the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach before attending an evening fundraiser in Irvine.
The bridge project, whose yearslong construction has been hampered by delays, is expected to be completed this year. It will replace the previous 1960s-era span at the Port of Long Beach with a 205-feet-high bridge designed to provide clearance for larger modern cargo ships. The original bridge is 155 feet above the water.
It will also include three traffic lanes in each direction -- up from the previous two -- along with emergency lanes and a bicycle-pedestrian path.
According to port officials, the bridge is also a critical route for cargo trucks, with roughly 15 percent of the nation's imported water-borne cargo traveling over the span.
The nearly $1.3 billion project, which broke ground almost seven years ago, is estimated to have created some 3,000 construction jobs.
Biden was set to tour the bridge shortly around 3 p.m. before making his way to a fundraiser in Orange County.
Meanwhile, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia endorsed Biden ahead of the planned visit. In a tweet, Garcia said "Biden is ready to lead our country on day one. He will stand up for the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and working class families. He can unite our party."
Biden was also endorsed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who will serve as a national campaign co-chair for Biden for President.
Joe Biden visits Southern California for fundraiser, tour of Long Beach bridge project