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George Washington Bridge Turns 80

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The George Washington Bridge - Fort Lee, NJ - Apr 30, 2011 (credit: Evan Bindelglass / Special to WCBS 880)

The George Washington Bridge – Fort Lee, NJ – Apr 30, 2011 (credit: Evan Bindelglass / Special to WCBS 880)

lamb_feature Rich Lamb
Rich Lamb is an award-winning reporter, who has been on the air at...
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) - It is a very special day for the world’s busiest bridge.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb On The Story

The George Washington Bridge was dedicated 80 years ago today.

At that time, it was also the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The idea for the bridge wasn’t always one that connected Fort Lee to Washington Heights.

“The George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River Bridge was originally designed, originally thought of, to go between Weehawken and 57th Street in Manhattan,” said Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni.

He says nearly 300,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day.

“Every year, we invest millions of dollars to repair, to replace the deck, the road surface, the steel infrastructure of the bridge,” Baroni told WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb, saying they have a moral commitment to keep that bridge in the highest state of good repair.

The George Washington Bridge is seen from the Palisades Interstate Park - Fort Lee, NJ - Mar 20, 2011 (credit: Evan Bindelglass / Special to WCBS 880)

The George Washington Bridge is seen from the Palisades Interstate Park - Fort Lee, NJ - Mar 20, 2011 (credit: Evan Bindelglass / Special to WCBS 880)

Dozens of Port Authority personnel are working on the bridge around the clock.

“We’ve got…Port Authority police officers who each and every day keep people on the bridge safe. We’ve got people who are constantly painting the bridge, people keeping the steel up, people keeping the roadway up because we know that the George Washington Bridge not only is majestic and not only is historic, but it’s critical to the economic infrastructure,” said Baroni.

On special occasions, the bridge flies the largest free-flying American flag. That flag will fly on Tuesday to celebrate the anniversary.

The towers will also be illuminated.

The George Washington Bridge is seen with its towers illuminated for 9/11 - Fort Lee, NJ - Sep 11, 2010 - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

The George Washington Bridge is seen with its towers illuminated for 9/11 - Fort Lee, NJ - Sep 11, 2010 - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

At the moment, the bridge’s necklace lights are pink in honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The first time colored lights were used was in October 2010. The lights will be green in November to honor the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts.

“Whether you look at it from Manhattan or you look at it from New Jersey, you see something that is unique to the whole world,” Baroni said. “There is no crossing over any river anywhere on the planet that can compete with the majesty of the George Washington Bridge.”

When the bridge opened in 1931, it only had one level. The lower level, known to some as Martha, opened in 1962.

The no longer functional Little Red Lighthouse under the New York tower even became the subject of a children’s classic – The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde H. Swift and Lynd Ward.

Are you one of the 300,000 drivers who cross the bridge every day? Please share your experiences in the comments section below!

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