NEW YORK - If you pass over the George Washington Bridge each day you'll pass by 160 construction workers.
"We’re physically removing and replacing suspender ropes while they’re driving across the bridge," explained George Washington Bridge General Manager Ken Sagrestano.
Each of the thick steel ropes supports 160,000 pounds. The workers install temporary ropes, transfer the weight, string new ropes and secure them, before transferring the weight back and moving on to the next one.
There are 592 ropes in all.
"I watch over a couple of iron worker gangs, I have a suspender gang and a raising gang and I coordinate their work," said Michelle Miyaki, a construction superintendent for Skanska.
The Port Authority is also rehabbing the barrel-like cables that support the ropes and the roadway and installing a dehumidification system to keep the cables rust-free to keep the bridge going for at least another 88 years.
"When you’re setting these platforms and you’re 360 feet off the roadway and 600 foot off the ground thats when I get a little concerned," said Jack Williams, an iron worker and general foreman for Skanska.
Sagrestano says the projects include improving entrance and exit ramps, rehabbing the bridge's upper and lower levels and rebuilding the walkways and making them accessible to the disabled.
The public won't really see the progress for another year and half from now when the platform above the New Jersey bound side is removed, signaling the end of construction on the New Jersey bound side of the walkway and the New Jersey bound side will be complete.
The Port Authority says the project is on budget and on time. And for that to continue there will be more lane closures — decisions not taken lightly.
"A great deal of analysis that goes into shutting down a lane. As a result, we do a lot of the construction at night when people are at home asleep," Sagrestano said.