Maintaining Dingman's Ferry Bridge
For over a hundred years, Dingman’s Ferry Bridge has been a pivotal landmark that has served a variety of travelers. As one of the last privately owned toll bridges in the entire United States, Dingman’s Ferry Bridge provides transportation from Pike County, Pennsylvania and Sussex County, New Jersey. In 1995, when the opportunity arose to ultimately paint Dingman’s Ferry Bridge, Alpine Painting had three other competitors. When Alpine Painting was given the opportunity to meet with a representative of the bridge, Jay Oliphant, Alpine Painting was successfully offered the bid.
Alpine Painting then began work on the bridge in September that same year. Although the nature of work was to sandblast and paint the superstructure, there would be many conflicts that required compromise. While the existing paint system had a high lead content, Alpine Painting also had to consider the potential pollution issues. Our company had to develop a containment that would both be eco-friendly and best suitable for the paint job. One important factor was the wind loading on our containment that could potentially damage the bridge and even cause it to collapse. The bridge’s engineers, Hartman Associates, came up with a design criteria to use a maximum 18 feet per span containment. In order to maintain the paint job but also preserve the bridge, each containment had a window-like composition, so that our painters could open the containment if sustained winds were to exceed 28 mph or gusts were to exceed 35 mph.
The bridge closed one week in September from Monday to Friday every year until 1998. The amount of work included setting up the containment, then preparing the substrate by sand blasting to bare metal. Once that is finished, the paint system would be applied and Alpine had to take down the containment in time for the bridge to open. Some of the issues were the drying times between the coats of paint, which could take as long as 16 to 24 hours. The high humidity and rainy days also became obstacles because of the condensation on the surface. Alpine contractors worked 24 hours a day, and ran double shifts to get the job done. Eventually, Hartman Associates allowed our containments to stretch to 36 feet per span, and closed the bridge for two weeks instead of one. The project finished in 1998, and Alpine’s work on the superstructure lasts till today.
The owners of the bridge were very pleased and has asked for more work ever since. Every year, the bridge requires work done on the underside, in both June and September. The underside work of the bridge included the stringers and the floor beams. Both the stringers and floor beams needed repainting where corrosion, and peeling paint needed to be removed. The deteriorations on the stringers and floor beams were accelerated by salt from passing vehicles. To access the underside, while keeping anything from falling in the river, scaffolds and tarps were used. Once the substrate on the stringers and floor beams were cleaned, two coats of Carbomastic 15 were applied. Depending on the weather, Carbomastic 615 would be used instead for lower temperatures.
Hartman Associates inspected the whole bridge, and Alpine performed maintenance painting wherever the engineers instructed. The job in June took two weeks and was not as major since once lane was open on the bridge. The major challenge in June was the traffic going through the bridge during the maintenance painting. There was only 18 to 20 feet of space on the bridge. One lane was open for traffic and Alpine was left with a small work area. This meant that our equipment had to be staged off the bridge. If power tools were needed, up to 600 foot hoses were used to supply compressed air or electricity. When Alpine came in September, after Labor Day, the bridge was under a full renovation with other trades working at the same time. The bridge closed 8am on Monday, and was set to open Friday at 4pm. This time, Alpine had enough space for their equipment on the bridge, but had to be mindful of the welders and carpenters who were also working on the bridge as well. Alpine and the other trades were able to coordinate with each other to finish the bridge efficiently and on time. For example, sections of the wooden planks on the topside needed to be removed for the carpenters and Alpine workers would then use safety lines and harnesses to walk on the beams and cross the bridge. Everyone on the job completed the project safely and with no injuries.
The completion of this year’s work on the bridge in June and September was a success, just as it was in 1995. Even though there many restrictions on the project, our skilled workers found a way to work around them. Our contractors are very fortunate to help keep this historical bridge in top shape. Alpine Painting has been in business for over 40 years, while building lasting relationships with all our clients. Dingmans Ferry Bridge is one of those relationships that we truly value. We look forward to doing more work with the bridge, and are enthusiastic to see its beauty last for ages.
1995 Superstructure Paint System
Carboline Paint System
-Prep SP 6 Commercial Grade Blast
-Prime Carbozinc 859
-Stripe Rust Bond
-Intermediate Carbomastic 90
-Finish Carbothane 133 HB
2016 Maintenance Paint System
-SP 2 Hand Tool Clean
-SP 3 Power Tool Clean
-Carbomastic 15 or 615 for low temperatures
Alpine Painting's Hardworking Craftsmen