The Ben Franklin To Get New Coat — Finally

The rusty portion of the bridge at the Philadelphia end has waited many months for a new coat of paint while the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey squabbled over a proposed channel deepening of the river.

But with the dispute settled May 17, the Delaware River Port Authority board is now ready to entertain bids on the Ben Franklin work, officials said.

Contracts for the bridge jobs could not be awarded earlier because Gov. Rendell, the DRPA chairman, refused to call a meeting while the dredging issue was unresolved.

This summer, the board is expected to choose a painting contractor, and work is likely to begin by the end of the year.

“The job is more than a brush and a bucket of paint,” said John J. Matheussen, chief executive officer of DRPA. “Twenty-six to 30 coats of paint have to be removed down to bare metal. It has to be carefully done because of the lead in the paint, and that’s complicated.” The total painting cost was expected to come in around $90 million. The 720,000-ton Ben Franklin has been painted about every seven years since it opened in 1926, with intermittent maintenance in between.

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