The history of the George Washington Bridge
One of the most famous bridges in the world, the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, started its existence in October of 1927. When it was completed in 1931 (also in October), it was the longest main bridge span (3,500 feet) in the world (it was later surpassed by the Golden Gate Bridge). It is also the busiest vehicle bridge in the world, carrying over 100 million vehicles a year (pre-pandemic).
It took four years to complete, with the upper portion widened from six to eight lanes in 1946 and the lower level being completed in 1962. As you might expect, it was an engineering marvel of its time, especially in its “cabling.” The bridge is supported by a total of 105,986 wires. There are four main cables, which suspend the upper deck and are held up by the suspension towers. Each main cable contained 61 strands, with each strand made of 434 individual wires, for a total of 26,474 wires per main cable. The cables were then covered by a sheath of weather-resistant steel.
The total length of the steel strands was 107,000 miles, and from them hang steel suspenders that connected to the roadway. The bridge is also known for the largest free flying American flag, which hangs from the bridge. It also got a lot of publicity in 2013 during the ”Bridgegate” scandal (“time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee!”). Many people that the scandal helped derail Chris Christie’s presidential bid, possibly the first time a bridge played a central role in a presidential campaign (or the second if you count Chappaquiddick).
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.