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Spot the difference: bridge gets a paint-lift

The dust-draped Howrah bridge now sports two colours in the picture taken on March 24 — not Mamata Banerjee’s favourite blue and white, but the usual dull grey in the middle and a fresh sparkling silver on the sides. Calcutta’s most famous icon is getting a fresh coat of paint after eight years.

Metro presents a status report .

The three parts

The anchors on Calcutta and Howrah sides. They support the bridge with the help of two pillars.

The cantilever portion or the central span. The two arms of the central span support the suspended span and also takes the load of vehicles.

The suspended span. It absorbs the vehicular load in the middle and transfers it to the central span.

The deadline: June. Painting is complete on more than a third of the bridge — the two anchors and a part of the cantilever span. More than 100 workers are painting the bridge on both sides.

Genesis

A pontoon bridge or floating bridge became functional across the Hooghly in March 1874. The current bridge — a suspension-type balanced cantilever bridge — became operational in 1943. The superstructure is 2,150ft long and 280ft tall from the foundation.

The first alarm

In the late 1980s, Calcutta Port Trust, the custodian of the bridge, engaged consulting firm RITES to conduct a survey. RITES recommended that the bridge be painted with anti-corrosive chemicals every five to six years to prevent corrosion. But the paint-job has remained irregular.

The road ahead

Experts said painting is only a part of the maintenance. The cantilever bridge stands on four 80ft-tall limbs buried on either side of the Hooghly. The river water has chewed off 5-6 per cent of the steel and the limbs need repairs.

Text: Sanjay Mandal
Picture: Amit Datta