George Washington Bridge - Upper Level

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 |

It's back to the George Washington Bridge, the scene of two previous treks across the Hudson River, but this time it's a walk over the upper level of the bridge, all 212 feet up in the open air worth, rather than in the tunnel-like lower level. It was a rather breezy day after Christmas, around 40 degrees or so, thus a bit of a wind chill especially out in the open and, again, up in the air. Not an ideal day for a bridge walk, but not bad for early winter; and in the end we even took a drive over following the walk.

We--my wife and I had my son this time on the walk--started from the Fort Lee, New Jersey side, which has some parking pretty close to the bridge walkway that is on the south side of the bridge. We quickly passed by the guard who is posted at the beginning of the Jersey-side--not my ideal job location, and certainly not because it's in Jersey. We ran into the guard, or one of his compatriots, months ago on a detour after our walk out onto the lower level, when we checked out the upper level in preparation for this trek--back then he wasn't happy with our taking pictures of the bridge, telling us that no close-ups of the bridge were allowed and to focus our attention on the views off the side. So, we of course complied, and needed and received no attention from him this time. Fortunately, the security truck we saw newly parked next to his post as we came off the bridge was not for us.

So, how scary is it walking out on one of the higher and busiest bridges in the United States? I was relatively ok as long as I stayed on the car side of the walkway. The walkway was pretty wide as far as those things go, lots of room to let the bikers go by. Lots of room in case the dreaded rogue wind gust popped up in the direction of the railings. The railings were rather open, good for the views, I suppose, and were just high enough to offer some comfort. However, I still don't like my arms reaching down to touch the top of the railings. Have to work on that. Given that we've been out before on the lower level of this bridge, and were much higher up at the New River Gorge Bridge, I guess there's been some desensitizing--it just didn't feel all that high in the air. Nonetheless, the open railings, not all that high, and the undeniable height of the bridge, made this one the scariest bridge yet trekked, with an official scariness rating of 23--a 9 for height, 5 for length (about a mile long), 7 for width (the open and not all that high railings), and an add factor of 2 for the scary looking towers. That's the highest rating yet, exceeding the rating for the lower level of the GW bridge, and even the 876-foot-high New River Gorge Bridge.

So, we walked to the middle of the bridge, turned around and exited back off the Jersey side back to the car, and going to visit family on the New York side, I even drove over the bridge. The theory is that if you can walk over a bridge, then you can drive over it, too. So far, so good: no rejection of that hypothesis.