Repainting the bridge - Technology & maintenance - Sydney Harbour Bridge precinct


Project overview

Transport for NSW maintains all steelwork on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Protecting the intricate web of steelwork from corrosion is the most important factor in conserving the structure.

Project information

Repainting program

Transport for NSW will continue to carry out scheduled maintenance on the Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway. The work will include removing old lead based paint and replacing it with lead free paint.

To minimise ongoing inconvenience to cyclists, we will complete this work at night when cyclist numbers on the Bridge are low. The cycleway will have a reduced speed limit and traffic control in place from 8pm to 4am on three occasions:

  • from Sunday 21 October to Friday 26 October
  • from Sunday 4 November to Friday 9 November
  • from Sunday 18 November to Friday 23 November.

View or download the October project update (PDF, 364Kb).

In addition to this, we continue to carry out the repainting program during the day. The containment structures on the east side of the bridge are moving further north, above Bradfield Park and as a result, some areas of the park will be inaccessible during this work. There will also be occasional machinery and plant movement in the park.

Work continues on the western side with the containment structure continuing to move north.

The containment structure on the east side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge now sits above Bradfield Park. We have also set up a safety zone underneath the containment structure in Bradfield Park.

Work within the containment structures will continue while the structures are in place above Bradfield Park. We have included a diagram to show the location of the work, and the future path of the safety zone. The safety zones will be fenced, and inaccessible during the work.

Along with the safety zones beneath the containment structures, we will put temporary exclusion areas in place to allow us to move the containment structures. The exclusion areas are in place for three days during each section of work, weather permitting, and are removed at the end of each shift.

View or download the July project update (PDF, 194Kb) about the east containment structure

View or download the May project update (PDF, 266Kb) about the west containment structure).

Repainting of the South Portal Frame

Transport for NSW will carry out essential painting work on the steel columns and framework in front of the south pylon on the Sydney Harbour Bridge known as the South Portal Frame. Work includes setting up a compound at the base of the columns, scaffolding the frame and installing a containment structure to complete the painting work. Minor steel repairs and inspection work will also be carried out during this time.

There will be some pedestrian traffic changes around the work area with pedestrian diversions in place.

View or download the April project update (PDF, 396Kb).

Sydney Harbour Bridge northern painting program

Transport for NSW is continuing work on the steel underneath the walkway and cycleway of the northern spans of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The work involves removing the existing paint, repairing the steel structure and applying new lead-free paint, further protecting the iconic structure. A similar program has already been completed on the southern end of the bridge.

The work will be carried out in completely enclosed containment structures on either side of the bridge. The areas directly below the containment structures in Bradfield Park will be fenced off while the work is carried out for the safety of the general public.

This maintenance work will take about three years to complete due to its complex nature.

Containment structures

The containment structures are enclosed environments used when we are blasting, repairing and repainting the steelwork. Working inside these structures means that any remaining lead-based paint (which has not been used since 1985) will be removed from the steel and is completely sealed inside and can be disposed of safely so it doesn’t pose a risk to the environment.

The containment structures clip onto the side of the bridge. This means part of the structures will narrow the footpath and cycleway in some areas on the bridge. Flashing lights and traffic cones have been placed around the containment structures so pedestrians and cyclists are aware of the change.

Cycleway improvements

To ensure the safety of workers and cyclists, the Sydney Harbour Bridge cycleway is narrowed to ensure safe clearance around the containment structures used to repaint the bridge.

Following feedback from the community and stakeholders, and after meeting with Bicycle NSW, we engaged a traffic and transport consultant to carry out a safety assessment of the area to ensure we are delivering the best possible safe conditions for cycleway users.

Following the assessment we have carried out a number of actions to improve conditions in the area around the containment units, including:

  • Limiting the length of the narrowed area with safety cones moved to the fence at the end of every shift
  • Installing reflective tape and more padding on hard edges of the containment unit to improve visibility and safety
  • Increasing lighting in the area
  • Removing signage from the ground and installing overhead signage
  • Including a speed limit of 20 km/ h along the length of the narrowed cycleway.

The work cycle

The work will be carried out in sections with each one being two phases:

  • Phase One: Removing the existing lead-based paint and corrosion using blasting equipment
  • Phase Two: Repairing and repainting the steel.

It will take about 30 days to complete each section. The nosiest part of the work will be during the blasting phase. We expect this work to take about eight days to ten days for each section. Blasting work will start at 8am and stop at noon on workdays.

The containment structures and safety zones underneath will move from near the northern pylon towards Milsons Point train station as work progresses. When the containment structures are in place in the next section, work will begin.

Bradfield Park

There will be some changes to Bradfield Park during the work. Areas directly below the containment structures on either side of the bridge will be fenced off. These safety zones measure about 300 square metres each. Additionally, some areas of the park surrounding the north pylon car park will be used for the site compound. The safety zones and site compound will remain in place while the work is carried out, making them unavailable to public.

Bradfield Park will be reinstated, where required, when the work is completed.


Regular repainting of the steelwork is an essential and ongoing part of the Sydney Harbour Bridge maintenance. Around 485,000 square metres of steelwork – which equals about 60 football fields – need to be painted, with 30,000 litres of paint required to give the bridge just one coat. Inspection of the steel work is necessary and a variety of tradespeople help maintain the bridge. These trades include ironworkers, boilermakers, fitters, electricians, plasterers, carpenters, plumbers, riggers and painters.

Transport for NSW completed work in 2015 on about 90,000 square metres of steelwork below the deck level of the southern approach spans. This maintenance work involved removing the bridge's old paint and repainting. As part of this process, each layer requires a full day of drying time, making this project time consuming and heavily subject to weather conditions.

Transport for NSW goes to great effort to contain the paint dust and paint spray when stripping and reapplying new paint on the bridge.

A number of platforms were built to give workers access to the bridge and the steelwork beneath the pedestrian walkway and cycleway during work on the southern spans of the Bridge. The access platforms were fully enclosed and use air extraction systems that remove and filter all airborne particles from the work area. A photo of a painting platform is show in the image gallery.

A robot was also developed to help with the maintenance of the bridge.

Transport for NSW aims to reopen areas to public access as soon as work is complete and it is safe to do so.


Contact us

For further information about this project, please contact:

Phone: 02 9255 3474