Extreme makeover: Ben Franklin Bridge edition

April 14, 2008 3:19:31 PM PDT
The massive Ben Franklin Bridge is not looking at its best. Within days, workers will swarm over the bridge to remove the rust and create a full restoration.

"It is not just an aesthetic painting of bridge, it's taking it down to bare metal, looking at structure, and repairing structure where necessary," Robert Gross, Delaware River Port Authority Deputy CEO.

The restoration will include blasting away 26 layers of lead paint. Some of the paint dates back to the span's construction in the 1920's.

Toxic lead dust showering down on old city homes and sidewalks is one of the issues facing this makeover.

The DRPA says critical work will be done inside large tent like containments to prevent contamination. Machines will lower the air pressure inside to keep toxics inside.

"You have negative pressure inside the containment; so if the containment is breeched for any reason, you have outside air drawn into the containment rather that internal air released," DRPA engineer William Brooks said.

The DRPA says this is not just theory. Containment was used on other portions of the work.

This work does not come cheap; as the work being done on this portion of the bridge costs $22 million.