GWB $2B Rehab Passes Halfway Mark

NEW YORK—After nine decades of standing tall and serving as the most important piece of transportation infrastructure in the nation, the George Washington Bridge is finally getting a redo. At 92 years old, the GWB is now  undergoing a $2-billion comprehensive restoration program known as “Restoring the George,” which has now reached the halfway point.

The major contractors of the project for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are El Sol Contracting and Construction, Skanska Koch Inc, Ahern Painting Contractors Inc, GCCOM Construction Co JV and ES II Enterprises JV.

However, many essential elements of the program have already crossed the finish line.  Last year, the contracting community delivered to bicyclists and pedestrians a wider, safer and more accessible shared-use path on the north side of the span. As construction on the south side’s path continues, pedestrians will have exclusive use of it once construction is complete. Bicyclists will then get the north side to themselves.

The “Restoring the George” rehabilitation project is now halfway finished. Full replacement of the upper-level eastbound roadway pavement will start this month.
Photo Courtsey/PORT AUTH/NY-NJ

Significant work on the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, the roadway immediately east of the bridge, has also been checked off the to-do list. Its median barriers, water supply system, and steel column fireproofing encasements have all been rehabilitated or upgraded, the Port Authority reported.

The bridge roadway itself has also seen substantial work. Replacement of upper-level roadway finger joints—interlocking steel plates that allow the deck to expand or contract depending on the temperature—and 32 deck panels at the bridge’s two towers are complete. The lower level’s eastbound lanes and the upper level’s westbound stretch over Hudson Terrace have been rehabilitated, and the new helix ramp from the Palisades Interstate Parkway is complete.

“This iconic structure has served as a critical transportation link for nearly a century and is a crucial artery moving millions of people and billions of dollars in goods every year,” said Dennis Stabile, the deputy director of the Port Authority’s tunnel, bridges and terminals department, which oversees the agency’s motor vehicle crossings. “Given its importance in the regional transportation network, it’s crucial that these critical projects get done to allow the bridge to serve as a vital crossing for generations more to come.”

The 11-part program also includes critical rehabilitation work for the intricate system of ropes and cables on the bridge, which support the weight of the bridge deck and traffic. Workers are now nearing the home stretch in the long, methodical journey to replace each of the nearly 600 vertical suspender cables across the bridge, which transfer the weight of the bridge decks and traffic to the main suspension cables. In 2021, the entire north side received 296 new suspender ropes and the two main cables, which are each approximately one mile long, were rehabilitated. On the south side, more than half of the steel cable ropes have been replaced. This phase is expected to be complete in 2026, when the new pedestrian-only south walk will reopen.

Other Restoring the George projects include:

  • Rehabilitation of the 178th and 179th street ramps, underway in December 2017, is now 75% complete. Work on the bus turnaround and both east and west bus ramps leading to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station have been completed.
  • Rehabilitation of the Center and Lemoine Avenue bridges, underway in June 2023, is now 15% complete. The east side of the Lemoine Avenue bridge deck is currently under construction, with completion estimated in the fall of 2024.
  • Rehabilitation of lower-level steel, repainting and replacement of movable platforms, advanced in phases beginning in 2015, is now 12% complete.
  • Full replacement of the upper-level eastbound roadway pavement will start this month.
  • Rehabilitation or replacement of components of the Fort Washington Avenue, Broadway, Wadsworth Avenue, St. Nicholas Avenue, Audubon Avenue, and Amsterdam Avenue bridges over the Trans-Manhattan Expressway is under design. Construction is expected to start in 2025.
Construction work on Lemoine Ave bridge. The east side of the Lemoine Avenue bridge deck is currently under construction, with completion estimated in the fall of 2024
Photo Courtesy/PORT AUTH./NY-NJ
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