The Golden Gate Bridge is big, beautiful, and orange. Its main cable is also long overdue for a paint job. So reports CBS 5, which notes that the cable in question hasn't been painted in its entirety since the 1930s — despite an independent engineering audit in the late 1960s which stated "the cable is obviously due for painting in the next year."
Why, besides looking pretty for all those picture-snapping tourists, does this matter? An answer can perhaps be found on the Bay Bridge, which is regularly painted. “If we don’t paint the bridge, then the bridge rusts,” Bay Bridge painter Conrad Melendez told the channel. Rust on a bridge is bad — a fact not unique to the Bay Bridge.
The section in question on the Golden Gate Bridge is the cable housing — the metal tube that encases 27,000 individual steel strands. It has reportedly only ever been spot painted since the bridge opened, despite recommendations to the contrary. Indeed, other parts of the bridge are painted constantly. "Painting the Bridge is an ongoing task and a primary maintenance job," bridge officials note. "The paint applied to the Bridge’s steel protects it from the high salt content in the air which can cause the steel to corrode or rust."
Interestingly, money was approved to paint the cable housing in 2011 and workers even began the process. The work was never completed, however, as the worker-safety cables that run the length of the bridge cable were deemed to be in need of repair (take note, daredevil photographers). Dietrich Stroeh, who sits on the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors, told the channel that that money was then spent on other projects.
Not to worry, however, as bridge officials say that they intend to have the cable painted by 2022 — a mere 85 years after the bridge opened to the public. Assuming the money doesn't get spent elsewhere, that is.