Press Release Article


Date: Apr 24, 2002
Press Release Number: 50-2002

High Above the Hudson, Painters Will Apply 35,000 Gallons of Paint

In one of the largest and most dramatic bridge painting jobs in the world, the magnificent steel towers of the George Washington Bridge - from their peak 604 feet above the Hudson River where rare birds nest, to their concrete supports 200 feet below the bridge deck - will get a new gray coat.

Using 35,000 gallons of paint, painters working from scaffolds will blast every square inch of paint off the 2.5 million square feet of the steel towers and repaint it. The three-year, $54 million project will ensure that the world\'s busiest bridge - which carries more than 300,000 vehicles a day - is ready to handle another 25 years of Hudson River storms and pounding truck and car traffic.

New York Governor George E. Pataki said, \"For the past 70 years, the George Washington Bridge has been a symbol of strength and vitality for the region. Perhaps most importantly, the bridge symbolizes the transportation improvements that the Port Authority will continue to plan and deliver. In the aftermath of September 11, the Port Authority\'s resources are more important than ever.\"

New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, \"The Port Authority\'s assets are known throughout the nation and comprise the most extensive transportation network in the nation. It is essential that they be preserved for current and future generations through projects such as this.\"

Port Authority Chairman Jack G. Sinagra said, \"This great bridge is one of the crown jewels of the region. Its construction was a milestone in transportation history. Today, the Port Authority is uniquely qualified to use its engineering and financial muscle to ensure that this world-famous crossing will serve passenger cars and truckers for decades to come, strengthening the region\'s economy.\"

Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, \"Transportation plays a crucial role in the region\'s recovery from the September 11 attacks. This project is part of our extensive $9.5 billion capital program, which calls for using the Port Authority\'s toll and fare resources and other revenue to rebuild PATH, upgrade our bridges and tunnels and provide more capacity at the region\'s airports and maritime ports to handle future growth.\"

Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, \"This is the most extensive bridge painting project we have ever undertaken, and we have taken great pains to ensure that it has limited impacts on our customers. Traffic on the bridge will not be disrupted, and scaffolding and platforms will be installed to protect travelers.\"

Ken Philmus, the Port Authority\'s Director of Tunnels, Bridges and Terminals, said the project involves stripping all the layers of paint off the towers and repainting the steel with a three-coat zinc, epoxy, urethane paint. Enclosed work areas will be built on the scaffolding to protect travelers and the environment when the paint is removed, Mr. Philmus said.

The north sidewalk on the bridge is closed while the underside of the bridge\'s upper level is being repainted, and will remain closed while the towers are painted. The south sidewalk will remain open for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Work will begin in June on the New Jersey tower and will take about two years to finish. Work is scheduled to begin on the upper portion of the New York tower in the spring of 2004 and be completed in 2005. The lower portion of the New York tower was repainted in 1998.

During work on the upper portion of the New Jersey tower, the giant U.S. flag which is housed there will not be flown on major holidays, and the tower lights will not be illuminated. The New York tower will continue to be lit.

The tower painting is one of several capital improvement projects on the bridge and its approach roads to keep them in a state of good repair.

Work is more than 80 percent complete on a project to repaint the underside of the upper level of the bridge. This work will be finished by the end of this year. The westbound upper departure roadway leading from the bridge to New Jersey highways will be repaved this spring. In addition, 15 ramps that connect the bridge to the Henry Hudson Parkway, Riverside Drive, Cross Bronx and Major Deegan Expressways also are being rehabilitated.

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