By Bill Parry
The iconic Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria will mark its centennial in September and a host of elected officials in western Queens are calling on its owner to give it a face-lift. U.S. Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), along with state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), and City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) drafted a letter calling on Amtrak to repaint the bridge for the first time in 20 years.
“Despite its superior design and historic significance, the Hell Gate Bridge has been allowed to take on an unbecoming appearance,” they wrote. “As you are surely aware, the bridge has not been painted since the 1990s, and stands today covered in a patchwork of pink, beige and brown. We believe that the time is right to turn Hell Gate into another jewel adorning New York City’s waterfront.”
Amtrak, which is in its worst financial shape ever with debt topping $3 billion, according to government report, does not agree.
“The main span of the Hell Gate Bridge was last painted in 1996, after a special Congressional appropriation of $55 million, which was provided for the painting of the entire Hell Gate viaduct,” Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said. “While the paint that was applied to the main span in 1996 has discolored, the judgment of the Amtrak Engineering Department is that the paint still provides adequate protection of the steel and is preventing structure deterioration. The current condition of the paint will allow it to continue providing that level of protection for some years to come.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr