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Matthew:

Why has the paint job on the San Diego-Coronado bridge been allowed to look like hell for so many years? For a while they were doing the retrofitting, so I understood that was the priority. Several random sections do have a fresh coat of blue on them, but the rest of it looks lousy. Do we have to start paying a couple of bucks again per trip to get it looking nice?

-- Matt 2, San Diego

You seem to have scrutinized the thing pretty carefully. I can only hope this isn't when you're behind the wheel. Anyway, CalTrans, keepers of the bridge, are amazed at your critical review of their artistry. From four to eight painters are assigned to the bridge. They work continuously around the bridge year after year. They don't paint some spots and skip others. Any new paint is therefore going up next to the oldest paint on the bridge. Patchiness? Perhaps. And if something like the retrofit interferes with work, they stop temporarily rather than break up the continuous-paint plan. It takes a minimum of five years to complete one trip around the thing. Before they repaint, they take the old stuff down to the metal, put on a protector coat, then a primer coat, then two coats of blue. More patchiness? Probably. BTW, they have a vacuum system that sucks up the paint chips that come off the bridge so they don't end up in the bay. Feel better? Hope so.

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