Thursday, May 3, 2018

Work to finish repainting Aurora Bridge begins this spring

By Marqise Allen

About 15,000 gallons of paint.

That's how much paint will be used to finish repainting Seattle's Aurora Bridge. For perspective, it'd probably take about two gallons to repaint your living room. So imagine repainting your living room. … and then doing it 7,500 times.

However, painting an 87-year-old bridge is more complicated than running out to your local paint or hardware store to pick out a new hue for your living room.
Contractor crews will finish repainting Seattle's Aurora Bridge starting in May. It will take two years to clean and repaint the steel trusses and other sections.

Starting this month and through the next two years, crews from Liberty Maintenance will complete the second phase of repainting the bridge, touching up the steel trusses and everything else below the bridge deck that wasn't painted in Stage 1. The trusses make up much of the structure, and are the sections that extend from just below the concrete bridge deck down to the concrete bridge piers on the ground.

Because the bridge is massive, all of the work will be done in sections, starting and finishing one area before moving to the next. Crews will wrap each section of the bridge with a containment system that will protect the nearby environment from exposure to the cleaning, painting, debris removal and cleanup.
The general condition of the paint on the SR 99 Aurora Bridge isn't good. We clean and paint bridges to keep them in good working order and protect them from rust and corrosion.

Speaking of painting, crews can't just slap a new coat of paint on. The contractor will first clean each section of the bridge and remove the old paint by sandblasting it off, down to the bare metal. Then they'll add a few layers of primer before eventually spraying on that beautiful Bulkhead Machinery Gray coat.

Why repaint the Aurora Bridge?
Besides the fact that rust just looks tacky, repainting bridges is an essential part of maintenance. Bridges must be regularly cleaned and repainted to keep them in tip-top shape. Rusting and decaying steel, if left unchecked, can threaten the stability of a bridge and potentially cause it to collapse.

So the work is done more so for upkeep than aesthetics. Though having a clean-looking bridge is nice too!
The floor beams and stringers directly below the bridge were cleaned and repainted in 2016. During this stage, we'll repaint the steel trusses that extend from below the bridge deck down to the concrete piers on the ground.

Will there be road closures?
Some of the set up and painting work will require occasional nighttime lane reductions of Aurora Avenue over the bridge. There will also be nighttime lane reductions on nearby roads such as Dexter Avenue. Everyone knows how busy the bridge can be during the day. That's why these adjustments will happen at night when traffic volumes are significantly lower. You'll be able to find closures on our website.

Paving work too?
Fast forward to when the bridge has been repainted and is looking all shiny and new, crews will then repave the driving surface on the bridge. It has been a while since the bridge was last repaved. About 20 years to be exact. New pavement will give drivers a much smoother surface to drive on.

Combined, all of the work will ensure the Aurora Bridge remains a beautiful piece of Seattle's skyline.