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Port Authority Announces Major Upgrade To George Washington Bridge

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Traffic drives over the George Washington Bridge (file/Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Traffic drives over the George Washington Bridge (file/Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After 80 years spanning the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge is about to get a major upgrade.

The Port Authority has just announced a rehab project that will pour nearly half a billion dollars into the aging suspension bridge.

The project, which is set to begin in 2013, will improve conditions on the 178th and 179th Street car and bus ramps and upgrade the bridge’s lower level, including steel repair, removing lead based paint and repainting. The Port Authority is also using an additional $20 million to replace the GWB’s steel suspender ropes.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot With Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye

“I guess that’s why we pay the extra tolls,” said one driver. “So they can put people to work and we improve our life.”

All of this comes as the Port Authority is facing sharp backlash in the wake of a scathing audit that called the agency “challenged and dysfunctional.”

Some lawmakers have even called for a rollback of the toll hikes. The Port Authority says that won’t happen and that the additional toll revenue is needed for projects just like this.

For more information, click here.

WATCH: CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reports

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