Repainting the Bridge

Roads and Maritime Services maintains all steelwork on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Protecting the intricate web of steelwork from corrosion is the most important factor in conserving the structure.

Sydney Harbour Bridge viewed from the north-eastern side, looking back towards the Sydney CBD.

Sydney Harbour Bridge northern painting program

Roads and Maritime is continuing work on the steel underneath the walkway and cycleway of the northern spans of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The work involves removing the existing paint, repairing the steel structure and applying new lead-free paint, further protecting the iconic structure. A similar program has already been completed on the southern end of the bridge.

The work will be carried out in completely enclosed containment structures on either side of the bridge. The areas directly below the containment structures in Bradfield Park will be fenced off while the work is carried out for the safety of the general public.

This maintenance work will take about three years to complete due to its complex nature.

Containment structures

The containment structures are enclosed environments used when we are blasting, repairing and repainting the steelwork. Working inside these structures means that any remaining lead-based paint (which has not been used since 1985) will be removed from the steel and is completely sealed inside and can be disposed of safely so it doesn’t pose a risk to the environment.

The containment structures clip onto the side of the bridge. This means part of the structures will narrow the footpath and cycleway in some areas on the bridge. Flashing lights and traffic cones have been placed around the containment structures so pedestrians and cyclists are aware of the change.

The work cycle

The work will be carried out in sections with each one being two phases:

  • Phase One: Removing the existing lead-based paint and corrosion using blasting equipment
  • Phase Two: Repairing and repainting the steel.

It will take about 30 days to complete each section. The nosiest part of the work will be during the blasting phase. We expect this work to take about eight days to ten days for each section. Blasting work will start at 8am and stop at noon on workdays.

The containment structures and safety zones underneath will move from near the northern pylon towards Milsons Point train station as work progresses. When the containment structures are in place in the next section, work will begin.

Bradfield Park

There will be some changes to Bradfield Park during the work. Areas directly below the containment structures on either side of the bridge will be fenced off. These safety zones measure about 300 square metres each. Additionally, some areas of the park surrounding the north pylon car park will be used for the site compound. The safety zones and site compound will remain in place while the work is carried out, making them unavailable to public.

Bradfield Park will be reinstated, where required, when the work is completed.

Background

Regular repainting of the steelwork is an essential and ongoing part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge maintenance. Around 485,000 square metres of steelwork – which equals about 60 football fields – need to be painted, with 30,000 litres of paint required to give the bridge just one coat. Inspection of the steel work is necessary and a variety of tradespeople help maintain the bridge. These trades include ironworkers, boilermakers, fitters, electricians, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers, riggers and painters.

Roads and Maritime completed work in 2015 on about 90,000 square metres of steelwork below the deck level of the southern approach spans. This maintenance work involved removing the bridge's old paint and repainting. As part of this process, each layer requires a full day of drying time, making this project time consuming and heavily subject to weather conditions.

Roads and Maritime goes to great effort to contain the paint dust and paint spray when stripping and reapplying new paint on the bridge.

A number of platforms were built to give workers access to the bridge and the steelwork beneath the pedestrian walkway and cycleway during work on the southern spans of the Bridge. The access platforms were fully enclosed and use air extraction systems that remove and filter all airborne particles from the work area. A photo of a painting platform is show in the image gallery.

A robot was also developed to help with the maintenance of the bridge.

Roads and Maritime aims to reopen areas to public access as soon as work is complete and it is safe to do so.

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