On Monday evening we had the opportunity to drive to New Jersey for supper at a diner.  That was a special treat as New Jersey is known for its diner.  Sadly this one was not the silver kind that gleam inside and out.  The food was decent and I could write a whole blog about diner food.  In fact there is a HGTV show devoted to diners and dives!  Must get back on track.

To get to New Jersey we have to cross the Delaware Memorial Bridge. (1) As we did I was looking at it gleaming in its green coat in the fall sunlight.  The green happened to match ever so closely the fall colors and the grass and trees it was near.  I wondered if the choice of color had anything to do with the landscape and how it would fit into the area.  I commented as much.  The driver was non-committal.

We tried to decide just what color the green was.  My companion said it looked like an olive drab.  I agreed though there was less black in the green and more yellow yet it was not a spring green.  It leaned more to the 1960s avocado a few tones lighter.  It was hard to pin down.   I thought immediately ‘blog idea’ and set the thought aside for future investigation.

It turns out there is not one color for bridges which I think I assumed there was until he revelation of Monday’s drive.   There are many different colors and it was a fun trip through the search engines to discover this fact.

Did you know there is a Federal Standard?  Yep Federal Standard 595.(2)  The State of Washington DOT refers to this in their paper on paints for bridges.   The paper says that the DOT of Washington state uses “4 custom colors” and references Federal Standard 595.  The color of the Bridge over the North Fork of the Lewis River is called Cascade Green to match the area.

“WSDOT uses four custom colors as well as referencing Federal Standard 595 Colors. These

are used to obscure visual differences between concrete mixes, aid in maintenance control of

graffiti and provide a more ‘finished look’. The warm taupe browns are neutral hues that

blend with the pre-existing built infrastructure.”(3)

I then was interested in an article about the Golden Gate Bridge.(4)   Now by the sounds of it this bridge should be painted yellow.  Instead it is “International Orange”.

‘Unique And Unconventional Treatment’

First, to set the record straight, the bridge is named not for its hue, but for its location. It’s built above the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

The color came about thanks to Irving Morrow, the Golden Gate’s consulting architect, who noticed the striking reddish-orange primer painted on some of the steel.

Morrow designed the bridge’s lighting and its art-deco styling. He also championed the unusual color. Most bridges were gray, silver or black. It was expected that the Golden Gate Bridge would follow suit.

“He had to convince the Department of War, the permitting agency at the time, that the largest suspension span ever built at the time [should] have this wild crazy color,” says Golden Gate Bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie.

The bridge’s construction began in 1933. Two years later, Morrow made the case for the wild color in the 29-page document, Report on Color and Lighting, which he presented to the bridge’s board of directors.

“The Golden Gate Bridge,” Morrow wrote, “is one of the greatest monuments of all time. Its unprecedented size and scale, along with its grace of form and independence of conception, all call for unique and unconventional treatment from every point of view. What has been thus played up in form should not be let down in color.”

The primer would need some added tones, but Morrow felt it was an ideal complement to the gray fog, the golden and green hills, the blue water and sky.

To get to New Jersey we cross a green bridge.  To go to Philadelphia we cross the Girard Point Bridge (5) which is being painted blue.  In 1926 another Philly bridge, the Ben Franklin was also painted blue.  (6)Could find no understanding as to the color choices.

The walk through the bridge histories led me to the Peace Bridge that connects Canada and the US in the Buffalo, NY/Ontario, Can. area.  This bridge just had an overhaul on 2009.  The reconstruction replaced all light bulbs with LEDs connected to a computer.  There is a light show at the bridge nightly.  You can even find a list of how it will be lit online as well.  That was a fun discovery for me and I want to see this bridge.(7)

The funniest thing about all of this is I detest bridges.  Riding across them and driving across them.  I am a white knuckle bridge driver.  Cannot wait to get to the other side!!!  Monday’s passage was easy as I was interested in the color and we were over it before too much angst.  Diversions are great.  Ultimately blog fodder as well!






(5)  Girard Point Bridge



By ktsquared Posted in Trivia

One comment on “BRIDGE COLORS

  1. EVERY TIME we go over the Bucksport bridge I think of you and your fear of bridges. Wondering what you think about the new Penobscot Narrows bridge( I think that is what it is called now although we will always call it the Bucksport Bridge.
    Love you and as you can see I am pretty mobile!!!!

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