George Washington Bridge; New York; Manhattan;
Ilya Bykov George Washington Bridge; New York; Manhattan;

Why?

Because they’re remodeling the George Washington Bridge. I siphoned a few brain-breaker stats from the article you can read (and video you can watch) from NorthJersey.com here. I think any of us who make our livings from the “built environment,” as architects and urban planners like to call structures, will appreciate the scale of this 8-year, 1.9-billion (with a “B”) dollar project.

I’m not too squeamish when it comes to heights, I don’t think, but when it comes to a jobsite 600 feet above a river, you can just consider that one big pile of Nope from me. Check it out.

- The George Washington Bridge opened to cars on Oct. 24, 1931. In the intervening 87 years, its cables and suspension wires have supported the weight of millions of vehicles. They have resisted attack from the salty water of the Hudson River, and swayed in winds topping 70 miles an hour.

- The bridge’s steel has resisted all the elements except one: temperature. The deck rides high in winter, as its steel contracts in the cold. Then comes summer, when hot temperatures cause the entire mechanism to expand and sink.

- Age and salt have caused stress and corrosion to the suspender ropes, which tie the bridge’s four main cables to its double layer cake of roadways. This is harder than it sounds. [Editor’s Note: Um, this sounds impossible. It’s actually more difficult than that?]

- The bridge has 592 of these ropes, and replacing them is a delicate slog.

- If weight is removed from one rope without proper balancing of all the rest, it might cause the bridge to tilt. That, combined with factors like wind and traffic, could lead to cataclysm.