Verrazano-Narrows Gets Ready For World-Wide Close-Up
With the annual ING NYC Marathon fast approaching, Verrazano-Narrows workers are going over the bridge with a fine-tooth comb, smoothing roadway surfaces, cleaning roadway debris and filling in errant potholes to make sure it's smooth sailing for the more than 47,000 runners that will cross the bridge at the start of the race on Sunday.
Verrazano-Narrows General Manager Daniel DeCrescenzo says in preparing for the race, "We look at the bridge in an entirely different perspective. Areas that are not normally used by motorists, including center medians and safety zones, have to be examined, and we go above and beyond our normal maintenance to eliminate tripping hazards such as small debris, uneven pavement and sharp edges in these areas."
The general manager and his team of supervisors, managers and Operations personnel work tirelessly in the days leading up to the race fixing broken roadway delineators, cleaning roadway drainage areas, readying electronic message signs, painting start lines, hanging sound systems and temporarily removing guiderails near the toll plaza to give runners easier access from the staging area.
The bulk of the work begins the night before when the upper level of the bridge is closed at 11 p.m. so maintenance crews can cover the bridge's finger joints, which are metal, intertwined joints that allow the bridge's roadway decks to expand in summer months and contract in winter.
The day of the race, Bridges and Tunnels' Special Operations personnel, along with crews from the Verrazano, set up checkpoints, reconfigure toll plaza lanes so traffic can get across before the bridge is closed for the race, and help race officials set up the toll plaza for the opening ceremony.
Once the last runner has left the bridge, volunteers armed with shovels and garbage bags, NYC Sanitation workers using front-end loaders, and maintenance workers from the Verrazano immediately begin scooping up discarded warm-up jackets and pants, water bottles, towels and other debris left behind by the runners. Last year, about 40,000 pounds of clothes were picked up and donated to charities by the New York Road Runners Club.
After the concrete barriers, guiderails, cones and delineators – removed for the race – are all back in place, the bridge is reopened to traffic, normally by 3 p.m.