SAN FRANCISCO — The main cables of the Golden Gate Bridge are being repainted in their entirety for the first time since the bridge opened nearly 75 years ago.

Crews working hundreds of feet above the water have begun applying the span's iconic reddish orange paint to the cables, which stretch 1.7 miles over each side of the bridge's two main towers. The cables support the roadway.

"It has been touched up through the years, but this is the first time (since its opening) the whole thing will be done," Rocky Dellarocca, paint supervisor, told the Marin Independent Journal (

The project requires crews to wash mildew, salt and residue off the cables — more than 25,000 pencil-sized wires that are bound with more wires and then sealed with paint. The cables must also be sanded down so fresh paint will adhere to their surface.

The work began in May and is expected to take up to four years to complete. It will consume tens of thousands of gallons of acrylic paint in the span's famous color, deemed "international orange."

The U.S. Navy wanted the bridge painted black with yellow stripes to improve its visibility to passing ships. But a consulting architect on the project, Irving Morrow, pushed for the reddish orange color, saying it blended well with the span's natural surroundings, according to bridge officials.

"I keep shooting for Kelly green, but they aren't buying it," painter Tom Scott joked to the Independent Journal. "That international orange is sticking."

The work has not been easy. In addition to the great height, crews say they have had to contend with soggy weather this summer.

They have not been able to put down a coat for the last 14 days because the paint wouldn't stick in the wet conditions.


Information from: Marin Independent Journal,