George Washington Bridge, lower deck (take 2)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 |

It's back to the George Washington Bridge for our second trek across the lower deck. On one Sunday morning every June, the lower deck of the bridge closes for a bike/run/walk as part of a fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society, with hundreds of people participating. We previously reported on last year's walk, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate one more time.

The George Washington Bridge, of course, spans the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York. It is about a mile long and is reportedly one of the busiest suspension bridges in the world. The walk started from Fort Lee on the Jersey side, went across the bridge and then turned right around and returned to NJ, not getting off the bridge in New York. Midway across the bridge are signs saying you are now entering NY or NJ. Unlike last year, when it was quite a shock getting out onto the bridge at 190 feet or so above the water, with no gradual build up whatsoever, this year I was at least prepared. The lower deck of the bridge certainly lacks openness, since the roadway above makes for a bit of a tunnel effect. But there was no mistaking that openness off the side with a great view of downtown New York. It is clearly quite high above the water. Unlike last year, I did make a tentative check of the side railing and walked near the side for a while. Otherwise, though, I was the person who stayed in the exact center of the roadway.

You could hear the cars driving on the top level, just above us, and you could actually feel the bridge moving, but really only when you weren't moving. Some balance thing, I assume, with the clear, desired effect of encouraging you to keep moving.

For scariness rating (height/length/width, like the old mathematical formula for volume), the lower level of the George Washington Bridge gets an 8 for height, 5 for length, and 5 for width (solid, though open and not high side supports), for a total score of 18, the highest score we've given a bridge on our treks of the past year.

We do have thoughts of graduating to the top level of the George Washington Bridge, where a pedestrian/bike path hugs the side of the bridge. We did at least check it out this year, going just a little way out. The photo at the top of this post shows the entrance to the walkway to the upper level path. It looks doable, maybe, but the scariness rating will clearly go up.