Spanning the strait

Modernizing the Goethals Bridge for the 21st century and beyond

Goethals Bridge spans the Arthur Kill tidal strait, connecting Staten Island, New York, and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Opened in 1928, Goethals Bridge, along with the Outerbridge Crossing, were the first facilities constructed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ). The steel truss cantilever bridge had two 10-foot-wide lanes in each direction with no shoulders — not up to today’s standards of 12-foot-wide lanes with emergency shoulders. By the early 2000s, the bridge was carrying more than 15.5 million vehicles a year, with up to 15 percent truck traffic during peak periods, making it continually congested and barely wide enough for motorists to safely pass tractor trailers.

When studies confirmed the original bridge had exceeded its useful life, the decision was made to replace the original structure with parallel cable-stayed bridges. We were selected by the PANYNJ, the bridge’s owner, to provide overall project management services, including permitting and procurement support between 2008-2013, and construction management support from 2013-2019 during the design-build delivery of the dual bridges. We concluded our support to the owner by providing claims management services through 2020.

Increasing design life

As the first public-private transportation project conducted by the PANYNJ, this is a landmark bridge. The new twin bridge spans provide three 12-foot lanes in each direction, accompanied by 12-foot outer shoulders, five-foot inner shoulders and a 10-foot pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians. The eastbound span opened in June 2017, followed by the westbound span in May 2018. The overall structure has a 100-year design life, while the towers and the main foundations have a 150-year service life.

Utilizing gravitational force

The new dual bridges feature 144 steel stay cables, each up to 400 feet long and 13 inches in diameter, connecting the bridges’ four sets of 272-foot-tall, V-shaped concrete towers to its twin roadways. The steel cables transfer the weight of traffic to the concrete towers, which in turn channel that pressure into the earth. The towers were constructed in drilled shafts that minimized excavation efforts, which helps protect wetlands on the New York side and avoids contaminated soils from industrial sites on the New Jersey side.

Connecting diverse commuters

The long-awaited completion of the new Goethals Bridge is alleviating congestion and easing the journey for people traveling to and from New York and New Jersey. Its wide shoulders and designated pathway for bicyclists and pedestrians improves safety and creates the opportunity for a greener way to travel. The Goethals Bridge replacement is a masterful example of modernizing infrastructure while building a lasting legacy in the region.