George Washington Bridge

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced plans to invest $500m to rehabilitate the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York City with New Jersey in the US.

Port Authority chairman David Samson said: "The George Washington Bridge is the busiest crossing in the world and represents the most critical connector of commerce in the Northeast region."

"Maintaining this iconic structure goes to the heart of the Port Authority’s mission, both as an engine of economic growth and as a provider of the region’s most important infrastructure," Samson said.

The first phase of the project, which is expected to cost $230m, will include rehabilitating 178th and 179th Street and bus ramps, planning work for the rehabilitation of the Center Avenue and Lemoine Avenue bridges, and planning for rehabilitation work on the bridge’s lower level.

The total rehabilitation is expected to cost between $460m and $480m.

In December last year, the agency’s Board of Commissioners had authorised a $20m planning project to replace the bridge’s steel suspender ropes that is expected to cost between $1bn and $1.2bn.

Port Authority executive director Pat Foye said: "These projects are core to the mission of the Port Authority of building and maintaining transportation infrastructure that will ensure the efficient, safe movement of people and goods in the New York New Jersey region."

"These are important assets to the Port Authority, and as stewards of the public’s infrastructure we must maintain and preserve them for future generations," Foye said.

Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni said: "Every day, more than 300,000 people use this bridge to get to work, to shop or to visit friends on both sides of the Hudson."

"In 2010 alone, the bridge handled some 102 million vehicles on its two levels, toll plazas and toll lanes," Baroni said.

"It is critical therefore that we invest in this programme to ensure this vital asset for the region continues to serve the region for years to come."

According to recent studies rehabilitation should be done on the 178th and 179th Street ramps, two associated bus ramps and the bus connector ramp structure that links these elevated areas.

The work on these ramps is expected to cost $218.8m and is estimated to create 1,013 jobs, $72m in wages, and $334 in economic activity.

The George Washington Bridge was opened in 1931 and a second level was built below the main deck in 1962 to handle the region’s rapid growth.

The Center Avenue and Lemoine Avenue bridges, which were built in stages between 1935 and 1965, are also in need of repair.

Rehabilitation was done on the Center Avenue Bridge in the late 1980s, while the Lemoine Avenue Bridge was partially rehabilitated in the late 1990s. The cost of rehabilitating both bridges is expected to be between $45m and $50m.

Recent engineering inspections have identified the need for steel repair, paint removal, and repainting of the bridge’s lower level, which still contains much of its original lead-based paint.

The first phase of the project is scheduled to start in 2013 with the second phase beginning in early 2015. The estimated total cost of the project is between $200m and $210m.


Image: Total rehabilitation work on the George Washington Bridge is expected to cost between $460 and $480m. Photo: Jack Boucher.