The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has awarded two major contracts for upgrades to the approaches of the George Washington Bridge.

The contracts are part of a larger project to rehabilitate the bridge under a 10-year investment programme called “Restoring the George”.

The authority’s board approved a US$67.5 million contract with Judlau Contractors to replace the Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP) Helix in Fort Lee as well as rehabilitate the bridge’s New Jersey approach spans that pass over the Hudson Terrace and the New Jersey Anchorage. The PIP Helix, composed of three bridges and two intermediate road sections, carries 7.4 million vehicles annually from the southbound roadway of the Palisades Interstate Parkway to the George Washington Bridge. It is beyond its useful life and requires frequent repairs. Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of this year and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The board also authorised a US$90.9 million project to rehabilitate the Center Avenue and Lemoine Avenue bridges in Fort Lee, which pass over approach roadways to the George Washington Bridge. The Center and Lemoine Avenue bridges were built in stages between 1935 and 1965. The Center Avenue Bridge was last rehabilitated in the late 1980s. The Lemoine Avenue Bridge was partially rehabilitated in the late 1990s. The existing deck slabs of both bridges are in poor condition, and in need of comprehensive rehabilitation for safety. Construction is expected to run from the fourth quarter of 2017 through to the second quarter of 2022.

The George Washington Bridge, which opened in 1931, carried more than 50.5 million eastbound automobiles, buses and trucks in 2015. Ongoing maintenance and investment addresses wear-and-tear and renewal  to keep the bridge  structurally sound. “Restoring the George” is a programme of 11 ‘state-of-good-repair’ projects that will invest US$1.9 billion in the crossing’s structural health over the next decade.

“Maintaining the George Washington Bridge, one of America’s great marvels of engineering and a vital component of our regional economy, is central to the Port Authority’s core transportation mission,” said Port Authority chairman John Degnan.

Port Authority executive director Pat Foye added: “‘Restoring the George’ is an investment that will improve our transportation system, create thousands of jobs, and contribute significantly to our region’s economy over the next decade.”

In 2014, the board approved the core project of “Restoring the George”, including replacement of the bridge’s 592 suspender ropes, rehabilitation of its four main cables and their 488 anchorage strands, construction of a new pedestrian safety fence and replacement of the bridge’s signature necklace lighting. Construction of the project will begin during the second quarter of 2017 for completion in the second quarter of 2024.