'Restoring The George' Work On 87-Year-Old Span Includes Replacing 592 Suspender Ropes, Preventing Corrosion And Expanding Sidewalks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve crossed the George Washington Bridge lately you may have noticed a lot of construction on the north side.

The bridge is getting a major facelift to increase its lifespan.

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CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis went to the top of the bridge on Wednesday for a behind-the-scenes look at what’s going on.

The view atop the GWB never gets old. The structure, itself, however, is aging. It just turned 87.

“It’s important to keep it in a state of good repair, so it lasts another 87 years and beyond,” said Amanda Rogers, senior engineer of construction for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

File – A view of the George Washington Bridge, Sept. 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

So for its birthday, the GWB is getting the gift of a longer life. It is undergoing a rehab project to keep it strong and sturdy.

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Rogers allowed CBS2 to step inside her office for a closer look at the work being done to replace the 592 suspender ropes on the bridge. That’s every one of them.

“The suspender ropes actually support the roadway beneath us,” Rogers said. “The main cables carry most of the load and the suspenders drop from there and support the roadway.”

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While the work is being done a platform is placed under the main cables, which are being repaired. A special system will also be added to prevent corrosion. CBS2’s DeAngelis walked along those large cables for an overview.

Beneath her, was the busiest bridge, which more than 300,000 cars cross a day.

When asked if traffic will be impacted at any point during the overhaul, Rogers said, “No more than our normal construction. You know, we study the traffic patterns. We do some daytime closures during non-rush hour and we do a lot of night work to try and not impact the public.”

This is part of the “Restoring the George” program, a nearly $2 billion investment made up of 11 projects. Among them, expanding the sidewalks.

“When we’re done with this group of projects we’re gonna have done something for the cyclists, for the pedestrians, for the motoring public,” GWB general manager Ken Sagrestano said.

This is the first time the bridge is getting new ropes and it may not happen again for a very long time.

“We expect them to last well into the next century — a once-in-a-lifetime kinda thing,” said Roger Prince, the Port Authority’s deputy director of operations and capital program delivery.

On Wednesday afternoon, workers were busy on the north side of the bridge. Eventually, they’ll move over to the south side. The project’s completion date is expected to be some time in 2025, and through the entire project the bridge will remain open.

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The good news is project leaders say the project is moving on schedule. For a look at how weekly construction could impact traffic on the bridge, please click here.