Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
The Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro has been undergoing a repainting project since April.

by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 11/2008

The Vincent Thomas Bridge is one of the most beautiful structures in the State and Caltrans intends to keep it that way.

One of the most beautiful sights in Los Angeles is the Vincent Thomas Bridge arching gracefully over the harbor to welcome visitors by land and sea.

An average of 46,000 vehicles every day travel over the sea-green bridge, which links San Pedro with Terminal Island. “Keeping it in perfect condition is a full-time job,” says bridge painting supervisor Bill Hansel, who has watched over (and under) the structure for 26 years. “Other bridges often deteriorate over time from lack of maintenance, but not this one.” In addition to Hansel’s loving care, the bridge receives $500,000 a year to keep it in shape.

Since April, the bridge’s West Tower has been undergoing a repainting project. The project has been kept under wraps, literally; the job has been taking place under a white, photo-reactive tarp (called Hippwrap) to contain paint chips and other debris that might otherwise end up on the road or in the water.

Nearly 300 gallons of paint are used for each coat on the tower and five coats are applied, bringing the total to 1,500 gallons per tower. The unique green color was developed when the paint was switched from oil to latex-based in the early 1980s. Latex-based paint lasts years longer and is better for the environment, Hansel explains.

Work on the west tower is supposed to wrap (so to speak) this month. Then the scaffolding and tarp will be removed and recreated on the East Tower, where painting will then begin.

Motorists are greeted by a tower of white plastic. Even under wraps, the bridge is still a beautiful sight. Enclosing the tower in a tarp keeps paint chips and debris from polluting the environment. 46,000 vehicles a day travel on the bridge between San Pedro and Terminal Island.