SR 99 - George Washington Bridge - Painting (Stage 2) & Paving

Project news

  • Weekend-long lane reductions for paving the SR 99 Aurora bridge are complete. Expect nighttime lane closures in September for permanent striping.
  • Drivers should be prepared for occasional nighttime street closures north of Lake Union 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly, Monday-Thursday, to allow crews to work on platforms beneath the bridge.
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This is the second phase of a project to clean and paint the SR 99 George Washington Memorial Bridge, which is more popularly and commonly known as the Aurora Bridge. The bridge is a designated Seattle landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Crews also scraped and repaved the driving surface of the bridge, repaired an expansion joint on the bridge deck and resealed six other expansion joints. This work was completed in four weekends, much less than the 10 weekend-long lane reductions allowed in the contract. 

Why is WSDOT cleaning and painting the SR 99 Aurora Bridge?

Steel truss bridges need to be regularly cleaned and painted to preserve their integrity and keep them in good working condition. The Aurora Bridge was built in 1931 and last painted in 1985. The old, lead-based paint is peeling away and flaking off, falling onto homes and into the lake, in addition to exposing the bridge’s steel to air and water, which has resulted in rust and corrosion.

Crews cleaned and repainted the bridge's floor beams and stringers in 2016 as part of stage one of this project. Floor beams and stringers are sections of steel located immediately under the concrete bridge deck.

What is being cleaned and painted?

In the next stage of the project, crews will clean and paint the bridge's trusses, which includes all remaining sections of steel not addressed in stage one. The trusses make up much of the structure, extending from just below the concrete bridge deck down to the concrete bridge piers on the ground.

How will the work be done?

Due to the bridge's size and height, work will be done in sections. Crews will encase a section of the bridge with a containment system to protect the surrounding areas from exposure to construction activities that will include cleaning, painting, debris removal and cleanup.

The contractor will then clean the bridge and remove the old paint by sandblasting it until the bare metal of the bridge is exposed. When that is complete, new primer and paint will be applied. As sections are completed, crews will move to another area of the bridge and repeat the process.

Crews will likely work from platforms they will install below the bridge deck. The painting work is wind sensitive.

Why is WSDOT repaving the SR 99 Aurora Bridge?

The Aurora Bridge was last paved about 20 years ago. It had ruts and cracks from years of use, which can cause puddling. Working in sections, crews gound off the pavement, examined the bridge deck and made any needed repairs, then repaved it.

The End Result

The bridge will have a new coat of paint that will help prolong the life of the structure by protecting it from rust, corrosion and the birds that frequently nest on the bridge.

With repaving finished, people traveling over the bridge have a smoother surface. The work also will extend the life of the nearly 90-year-old bridge.

Needs & Benefits

  • Preservation: This work helps protect the bridge from corrosion while preserving the bridge's structural integrity.
  • Economic: Maintaining the bridge is more cost-efficient than replacing it. Maintained properly, the bridge will continue to keep up with the high demand of traffic for years to come.
  • Safety: Improving the highway surface eliminates and helps prevent future potholes, cracks and wheel ruts, making for a smoother ride for drivers. Repairing expansion joints reduces the chances that an aging expansion joint could become dislodged or fail, creating a hazard to drivers and forcing an emergency closure of the bridge.
  • Environmental: Removing lead-based paint and replacing it with lead-free paint is better for the surrounding environment.


  • October 2017: Project was advertised for competitive bidding.
  • December 2017: Project was awarded to Liberty Maintenance, Inc.
  • Early 2018: Construction began.
  • Fall 2019: Construction is scheduled to be complete.


Financial Data for PIN 109946C, 109946D
Funding Source Amount ($ in thousands)
2003 Gas Tax (Nickel Funding) $0
2005 Gas Tax (TPA) $0
Pre-Existing Funds (PEF) $35,236
CWA $0
Total $35,236


Tom Pearce 
WSDOT Communications

A small map of the painting project at the SR 99 Aurora Avenue Bridge in Seattle.

A small photo of an aerial view of the SR 99 Aurora Bridge in Seattle.
An aerial view of the SR 99 Aurora Avenue Bridge looking south across Lake Union toward downtown Seattle.

A small photo of paint peeling off on the SR 99 Aurora Bridge.
This photo shows the typical condition of the paint on the SR 99 Aurora Bridge, flaking and peeling away.

View more photos