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More Rust on Golden Gate as Projects Advance

Monday, March 13, 2017

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Bridge officials have added surface plates to the laundry list of projects slated for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

In addition to a painting job necessary for the main cable lines, the seismic retrofit that’s underway and the suicide barrier installation that just got a completion date, officials have said that because of salt water and fog they aim to also make new cover plates for the iconic structure.

Surface Plates & Main Cables

The bridge’s south tower—the one not shielded from the elements by the Marin Headlands—has been looking especially battered along its rippled steel surfaces.

“These are cover plates to create the architectural look," said Golden Gate Bridge Chief Engineer Ewa Bauer Furbush.

The plates cover the horizontal struts of the towers and are made from specially formed quarter-inch steel, the San Francisco Examiner reports. Furbush added that the structure underneath those plates is fine, but the ladders and platforms needed to paint them are no longer safe for workers.

"It's not only deterioration, but they need to be brought up to code," she said.

The board of directors approved repairs of the facade in late February, and work is slated to start next year.

In addition to the plates, the bridge’s main cables have also been known to be in need for a paint job for time, having never actually gotten full coat since the bridge’s opening 80 years ago.

Each of the two main cables is 7,650 feet long and, including the exterior wrapping, each main cable is 36 3/8 inches, according to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District, and has only received spot treatment despite an official recommendation of a paint job in 1969.

By Wa17gs, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the plates, the bridge’s main cables have also been known to be in need for a paint job for time, having never actually gotten full coat since the bridge’s opening 80 years ago.

Work had begun in 2011, but was stalled because of the same safety issues that official now face with the plates. Work has been—and is still— slated to being in 2018 with an end date of 2022.

In the meantime, however, other projects in addition to the bridge’s constant maintenance are moving forward.

Suicide Barrier

A date has been set for the completion of the Golden Gate’s suicide barrier: Jan. 12, 2021. In December, the Golden Gate Bridge board awarded the building contract to Oakland-based Shimmick/Danny’s Joint Venture and is expected to cost $204 million.

Work has also reportedly already started on the administrative side.

The net will be made of stainless steel, marine-grade cable, and the barrier plan calls for the next to extend 20 feet below and 20 feet from the side of the span all along the 1.7-mile bridge.

Renderings: Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

A date has been set for the completion of the Golden Gate’s suicide barrier—Jan. 12, 2021. In December, the Golden Gate Bridge board awarded the building contract to Oakland-based Shimmick/Danny’s Joint Venture and is expected to cost $204 million.

The suicide deterrent project was first undertaken in 2006, with about nine years spent on design, planning and funding.

Seismic Retrofit

Seismic work on the northern approach, southern approach and the north anchorage house has been completed on the bridge, leaving the last piece of the decades-long project left for the center suspension segment.

The Marin Independent Journal reports that officials are set to go to Washington, D.C. “later this month to inquire about funding and gauge the interest of the new administration in the project.”

This final phase is estimated to cost between $450 and $500 million. Spokesman Priya Clemens said that they hope to advertise for the contract later this year.


Tagged categories: Barrier coatings; Bridges; Coating failure; Construction; Infrastructure; Paint; Weathering

Comment from Tony Rangus, (3/13/2017, 1:31 PM)

So I jump - Hit the net made from cable - If I am not injured and can move I jump again. Or do they figure the 20 foot fall into the cable net will incapacitate everyone that tries so they can be "rescued"? If you are suicidal & on the bridge, only another persons physical restraint will prevent you from taking your own life.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/14/2017, 10:36 AM)

As with all things, Tony, it's the degree of difficulty that dissuades. We have a bridge that they put up a fence along the pedestrian walkways to prevent suicides. The top deck is still accessible (it's a former rail deck) and a good leap from there will clear the fence and likely lead to a successful attempt. Thing is, getting around the fence is more of a hassle and dissuades the impulsive act, which accounts for a lot of suicides. Same with the netting shown. Sure, you will survive the first fall and likely not be hurt much, if at all...but the additional effort to scale the netting to the edge to jump again puts it past the impulsive leap and will cut numbers. Won't dissuade the determined, but will cut down on the total deaths.

Comment from Victor Pallotta, (3/14/2017, 11:41 AM)

if the bridge averages 43 deaths per year based on 2013 results, that's approx 960 over 20 years. At 204 Million dollars. That's $212,500 per jumper. Not to mention that a certain percentage of these unfortunate people will simply find another means of ending their life.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (3/15/2017, 10:50 AM)

Probably cheaper than that, stats on the number of contemplated jumpers who don't, just the attempts. Still, compared to the cost of a life in construction (the cost of a workplace death...even with the money saved by cutting corners), it's a reasonable number. Certainly would be better if such things weren't needed...

Comment from Daniel Tikusis, (3/16/2017, 12:32 PM)

$204,000,000 / 8976 feet = $22,727 / ft / 20 = $1136.35 /sq ft Is that gold plated cable ?

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