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Golden Gate 'Trolleys' Could Spur Cable Painting

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

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Painters working to maintain San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge may soon have a new tool at their disposal: A proposed $10 million “trolley” system along the bridge’s cables, to help transport workers and their equipment along the structure.

Upon the recommendation of its Building and Operating Committee, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District’s board of directors voted last month to approve a $173,133 contract for the design and testing of a system to hoist employees and tools up the main cable of the bridge in order to make access up the cable easier.

Golden Gate Bridge
© iStock.com / minddream

A trolley system could soon help painters access the main cables of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

The board previously approved a $13.2 million budget for the Main Cable Access Project, which aims to replace the handrail system on the main cable—nearing the end of its service life—with a more robust access system. The new expenditure is an agreement to use part of that funding for the design and testing of a mockup version of the system, which was proposed by NCM Engineer Corporation as part of a contract first issued in 2013.

The Design

The BOC, in its proposal to the board, notes that the bridge, due to the “unique configuration and geometry” of the main cables, requires a bridge-specific design for platforms for maintenance of the upper portions of the cables.

The preliminary design for the trolley system consists of 65-foot-long, 9.7-foot-wide caged aluminum platforms with trolley-wheel “travelers” rolling on the main cable steel hand ropes. The travelers will be moved by an air-powered winch-and-pulley system and will be braced against the main cables in case of instability.

Images of the proposed mechanism have not been released publicly.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, bridge engineer Ewa Bauer-Furbush compared the system to a ski lift. Each platform, the newspaper reports, would have room for four or five workers along with the equipment they need.

The system—which could be delivered as soon as late 2019, depending on the success of the testing—would give workers the green light to go ahead with a full blasting and repainting of the main cables, which in the past have been subject to maintenance painting.

   

Tagged categories: Access; Bridges; Health & Safety; NA; North America; Work platform

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