The Goethals Bridge ( /ˈɡɑːθəlz/) connects Elizabeth, New Jersey to Staten Island (New York City), near the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, Staten Island, New York over the Arthur Kill. Operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the span was one of the first structures built by the authority. On the New Jersey side it is located 2 exits south of the terminus for the New Jersey Turnpike-Newark Bay Extension. The primary use for this bridge is a connection for New York City to Newark Airport. The bridge has been grandfathered into Interstate 278, and named for Major General George Washington Goethals, who supervised construction of the Panama Canal and was the first consulting engineer of the Port Authority.

A steel truss cantilever design by John Alexander Low Waddell, who also designed the Outerbridge Crossing. The bridge is 672 ft (205 m) long central span, 7,109 feet (2,168 m) long in total, 62 feet (19 m) wide, has a clearance of 135 feet (41.1 m) and has four lanes for traffic. The Port Authority had $3 million of state money and raised $14 million in bonds to build the Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing; the Goethals bridge construction began on September 1, 1925 and cost $7.2 million. It and the Outerbridge Crossing opened on June 29, 1928. The Goethals Bridge replaced three ferries and is the immediate neighbor of the Arthur Kill Rail Bridge. Its unusual mid-span height was a requirement of the New Jersey ports.

Connecting onto the New Jersey Turnpike, it is one of the main routes for traffic between there and Brooklyn via the Staten Island Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Until the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed in 1964 the Goethals Bridge never turned a profit. The same happened to the Outerbridge Crossing. The total traffic in 2002 was 15.68 million vehicles.

Bridge replacement

The Goethals Bridge has two 10-foot (3.0 m)-wide (3 m) lanes in each direction, which do not meet the 12-foot (3.7 m) requirement of current highway design standards. The bridge also has no shoulders for emergency access. To meet modern standards and to address the deficiencies of the bridge, a new span is being considered. A study in 1997 concluded that the optimal solution would be a parallel span. However, a more recent study suggested that the existing span had only 10 years of life left, even with the recent deck rehabilitation, and that the optimal solution would be to build an entirely new span. The latter option was eventually chosen to come up with a number of replacement alternatives, along with the "no build" option. It is likely that a new bridge would also include additional lanes of traffic, high-speed E-ZPass lanes, and a reconstruction and widening of Interstate 278 from exit 4 in New York (NY 440 South) to NJ 439 in New Jersey.

Environmental Impact Statement

As of fall 2007, the following alternatives are being considered for the replacement bridge:

This is a change from the initial alternatives put forth in summer 2006, which included the option of twin three-lane replacement bridges north and south of the current alignment (which was completely eliminated) and twin three-lane replacement bridges, one south, and one along the current alignment, with the latter being built after the demolition of the current bridge (which was refined to be a single-span bridge instead of twin bridges). The reason for the dropping of twin-bridge alternatives was a request by the FAA to decrease the height of the bridge's towers to prevent interference for flights into and out of Newark Liberty International Airport.

All alternatives propose the bridge be a single level, cable-stayed, double spans, separated by towers with a height of 135 feet (41 m) above the high water mark of the Arthur Kill shipping channel. Each deck would have three 12 ft (3.7 m) lanes with a 12 ft (3.7 m) outer shoulder and 5 ft (1.5 m) inner shoulder and the northern deck would feature a 10 ft (3.0 m) pedestrian walkway. In addition, permanent access roads would be built under the bridge on land for maintenance, security, and construction purposes. Lastly, "sufficient space" will be left to accommodate potential mass-transit services.

Some consideration was given for mass transit. The studies indicate a bus-only lane was not economically viable, but that a high-occupancy vehicle lane open to buses as well as high-occupancy autos would be appropriate during rush hours if traffic supported it. Provision for rail transit was rejected; however, it was decided that whatever alternative was constructed, the design and structural integrity of whatever was constructed should ideally be able to be retrofitted for such at a later date. The suggestion for a freight rail connection was dismissed as uneconomic.

Public open houses have been held in Staten Island and Elizabeth, and the Draft EIS has been issued. Formal public hearings on the DEIS are to be held in July 2009.

As part of the construction, improvements to approaches and nearby interchanges will be made. These will include the New Jersey Turnpike Exit 13 toll plaza (and perhaps the entire interchange), the Staten Island Toll Plaza, and the Interstate 278/NY 440 Interchange. In addition, while separate from the Bridge Replacement Project, the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) may construct full movements at the Interstate 278/U.S. Route 1/9 Junction to coincide with the bridge's replacement.

In popular culture

As seen in "The Sopranos" opening theme.

Building Activity

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