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Verrazano-Narrows ‘Leg Lift’ Begins

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

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Containment is in place and coatings removal is underway on a $19 million “leg lift” for New York’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

The two massive towers of the Robert Moses icon, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn, are being cleaned, rehabbed and repainted by Corcon Painting Inc., of Lowellville, OH, a family-owned industrial painting contractor founded in 1976.

 Containment system on Staten Island tower legs of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

 Photos: MTA

A containment system surrounds the Staten Island tower legs of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Once completed, work will move to the Brooklyn side of the bridge.

The company, which was awarded the contract over four other bidders last summer, has performed painting and related work on several other New York bridges and on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is overseeing the project.

Scope of Work

The Verrazano-Narrows project will strip away old, lead-based paint from the legs of the two towers; rehabilitate steel where necessary; and add three new coats of high-performance, lead-free paint designed for bridges. The name of the coatings system was not immediately available.

Work on the project began in late 2010, and the containment system—a shroud-like covering of tarps raised on a pulley system—was constructed in late spring. Paint removal by a 35-member crew, using abrasive blasting from floating barges below the bridge, began in July.

 Cable and pulley system
A cable and pulley system is constructed on the Staten Island tower legs in preparation for the tarps that will enclose the steel structure.

Once the paint is removed from both the interior and exterior of the tower leg, any damaged steel will be rehabilitated, and the structure will be completely repainted inside and out. After finishing the Staten Island tower leg, Corcon will move over and repeat the process at the Brooklyn tower, MTA reports.

Nearly 11,500 gallons of paint will be used to re-paint both tower legs—about 185,000 square feet in all. Parts of the Verrazano-Narrows tower legs were last repainted in the late 1980s but some sections still bear the original paint from the early 1960s. All will be repainted.

All of the work is being done below the roadway, and there is no impact to traffic.

Longest Bridge Span

The 4,260-foot-long double-deck Verrazano was the world’s longest suspension bridge when the upper level opened to traffic in 1964. Although it surrendered that distinction to the UK’s Humber Bridge in 1981, the Verrazano remains the longest bridge span in the Americas, with its 693-foot towers a familiar site throughout much of the New York metro area.

The bridge’s lower level opened in 1969. In 2010, nearly 188,000 vehicles a day used the Verrazano, named for the first European navigator to enter New York Harbor.

 Tower leg completely wrapped in the containment system
A side view shows the Staten Island tower leg completely wrapped in the containment system. Work began in late 2010, with removal of paint beginning in July 2011.

The bridge is particularly susceptible to corrosion because of wind patterns where it sits in New York’s Upper Bay and because of its constant exposure to harsh, salt water and air conditions.

“Regular attention to painting bridges is critical to keeping them in a state of good repair,” MTA notes.

The transportation authority, which controls seven bridges in the city, is frequently repainting its spans as part of regular maintenance schedules, SIlive.com reports. The Throgs Neck Bridge between Queens and the Bronx is now being spruced up, and the Harlem River span of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (formerly the Triborough) was fully repainted in 2008, the site notes.

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; Containment; Lead; Paint and coatings removal; Project Management

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