| Connect Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook
About | Subscribe | Advertise


Learn while you earn.

Paint and Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

At 81, Sydney Bridge Preps for Facelift

Friday, May 31, 2013

More items for Program/Project Management

More items from Australia

Comment | More

Q: How many painters does it take to paint a coat hanger?

A: 50, when the hanger in question is the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

A worker makes a stretch in the bridge's early days. More historical bridge photos are available here.

Fondly known by locals as “the Coathanger,” the massive steel 81-year-old landmark is getting ready for its first complete paint job.

Lead Paint Replacement

The southern spans of the bridge, which links the northern and central parts of the city, will be abrasive blast cleaned to bare steel and repainted for the first time in its history. Some of the work will occur over city streets. The eight-lane bridge carries vehicular, pedestrian, rail and bicycle traffic.

The decades-old lead coating will be replaced by a non-lead-based system designed to last 30 years without fading or darkening, New South Wales Roads Minister Duncan Gay said in an announcement.

The icon’s color will remain its famous Harbour Bridge Grey, but the type of coating system was not released.

Sydney Harbor Bridge
Wikimedia / Rodney Haywood

The bridge spans Sydney Harbor. The Sydney Opera House, another national icon, is on the far left.

The blasting work will be carried out in sealed containment by workers wearing biotech suits, said a spokeswoman for Roads and Maritime Services NSW.

"Using lead-based products 81 years ago wasn't ideal, but the RMS has always worked to make sure there were measures in place so no danger was ever posed to the public," she said. "This continues with the repainting of the bridge in 2013."

‘Grande Dame’

“This Grande Dame of Sydney Harbour is getting a makeover with a high-performance, fade-resistant paint to help her endure the punishing conditions,” Gay said.

“We have 50 painters each day working away on various stages of the project, which is an investment in not just a key piece of infrastructure, but a much-loved icon.”

Sydney Harbour Bridge - historical

Construction workers of yesteryear take a break for a photo. Repainting the southern spans today will take 50 painters two years to complete and cost A$20 million, the government said.

The project will involve painting about 485,000 square meters of steelwork—the equivalent of 60 football (U.S. soccer) fields, various sites reported.

The A$20 million project ($19.2 million USD) will take about two years to complete, officials said.

Painting of the southern spans will come out of the bridge’s $18 million annual maintenance budget. After the southern spans are painted, crews will resume regular maintenance painting on the main arch and northern spans, Gay said.

National Icon

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Sydney Harbour Bridge—not just to the city, but to the whole of Australia.

“The displaced peoples of Europe who came to Australia in the days of the grand ships can get very misty when you ask them what they felt when they saw this grand old arch on their arrival in Sydney from the aftermath of World War Two as they sailed up Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour),” reports

Sydney Harbor Bridge - archive

The steel through arch bridge opened March 19, 1932, after six years of construction.

At 1,149 meters (about 3,770 feet) long and 49 meters (nearly 161 feet) wide, the steel through arch bridge contains six million Australian-made rivets (the largest up to eight pounds and nearly 16 inches long), and the total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, the site says. The bridge is 134 meters (440 feet) from the top of its arch to water level in the harbor.

Some 272,000 liters of paint (about 71,854 U.S. liquid gallons) were used to give the bridge its initial three coats, the site reports.

In the Limelight

The bridge is known internationally for the BridgeClimb Sydney event, which has drawn millions of visitors from more than 130 countries since it began in 1989. The Bridge Climb is a guided climb of the bridge’s southern half, making a formerly popular—but illegal—activity into a legal one.

Since 2009, BridgeClimb Sydney has also sponsored a Visitor Centre on the bridge.

BridgeClimb Sydney Sydney Bridge Climb
Creative Commons / Coolcaesar (left); BridgeClimb Sydney (right)

BridgeClimb Sydney has taken more than two million visitors (in harnesses) to the top of the bridge since 1989.

The coating project will work around these activities as much as possible, officials say.

“We need the Bridge in top condition,” said Gay. “She’s always in the limelight with thousands of international and local visitors flocking to visit and enjoy events like Vivid and New Year’s Eve fireworks.”

A gallery of historic photos showing the bridge's construction can be found here.


Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Bridges; Containment; Historic Structures; Lead; Painting Contractor

Comment from S Wolfe, (5/31/2013, 11:00 AM)

Australia's Eiffel Tower: a sublime beauty of a structure.

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

SAFE Systems, Inc.
Portable Dust Collectors for Tough Environments

Trailer and skid-mounted models in numerous sizes, powered by electric and/or diesel. Sloped roofs, multiple dust inlets, high static, dampered fans. Lockable power & drive compartments.

Minerals Research & Recovery

Sharpshot®XL is a new fast-cutting, low-dusting, cost-effective iron silicate abrasive. Call Patrick Conry: 502-552-5895 for details.

International Paint/AkzoNobel
Light Duty Protective Coatings

Check out our expanded line of alkyd, acrylic and waterborne epoxy coatings.

Termarust Technologies
Termarust (HR CSA) Chemically Stops
Active Corrosion

Truss bridge treated in 2000 with Termarust's (HR CSA) field-proven rust mitigation system chemically stopped corrosion, crevice corrosion & pack rust.

Absolute Equipment/Grand Rental Station
Portable Power from Absolute Equipment

•Lighting Systems
•Light Compaction
Sales • Rental • Service
Call 1-866-931-6655
Over a century of
providing excellence.

Atlantic Design, Inc.

See our website for features of our best seller, the ADI 3500CFM 4-Pot Blast Vacuum Recycler. A smaller package with all the ADI power you need. 866.Call.ADI

Abrasives Inc.
Check our Prices for Blast Abrasives

Faced with higher abrasive costs? We invite you to call & check our rates on Black Magic® coal slag and other quality blast materials. Abrasives Inc. 800-584-7524

HoldTight Solutions Inc.

Our HoldTight®102 salt remover & flash rust preventer prevents flash
rust by removing surface contaminants. It has no equal; only wannabees.
Contact us for your
nearest distributor.
(800) 319.8802

Clemco Industries Corp.
Global engineering-trusted solutions

For more than 70 years, Clemco has provided the highest quality blast equipment with a total commitment to comfort and safety.

Dampney Co., Inc.
High Heat Stainless Steel Paint & Coating

Wood burning stoves, fire pits, BBQ Smokers, Exhaust Manifolds Aerosol Cans, Quarts, Gallons, 5 gallons 1200F resistance

Technology Publishing

The Technology Publishing Network

The Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings (JPCL) PaintSquare
Durability + Design Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy policy   |   Terms & conditions   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us

© Copyright 2000-2015, Technology Publishing / PaintSquare, All rights reserved
2100 Wharton Street, Suite 310, Pittsburgh PA 15203-1951; Tel 1-412-431-8300; Fax 1-412-431-5428; E-mail