Interstate 278 New Jersey / New York
Interstate 278 begins in an industrial area between Linden and Elizabeth from a partially built interchange with U.S. 1 and 9. The freeway spurs east to the New Jersey Turnpike and Goethals Bridge approach to Staten Island, New York.
Interstate 278 enters all of New York City’s boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Bronx. I-278 connects to Manhattan because Wards Island, where the Triboro (RFK) Bridge is partially located, is part of the borough of Manhattan. Like Interstates 478, 678, and 878, I-278 does not meet the parent route Interstate 78.
An older, urban freeway, Interstate 278 offers excellent views of the Manhattan skyline. The freeway uses several bridges on its journey, including Goethals Bridge between New Jersey and Staten Island, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens, and the Robert F. Kennedy (Triboro) Bridge between Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Interstate 278 also carries several different names, including the Staten Island Expressway, Gowanus Expressway, Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and Bruckner Expressway.
Unlike most Interstates, I-278 carries a truck prohibition for a portion of its route; specifically, trucks must use the frontage roads parallel to the Grand Central Parkway section through Astoria, Queens.
I-278 concludes at the massive Bruckner interchange, where it converges with Interstates 95, 295, and 678 as well as Hutchinson River Parkway.
East End – The Bronx, New York, NY
West End – Linden, NJ
Total Mileage – 35.62
New Jersey – 2.00
Cities – Elizabeth
- Junctions –
New York – 33.62
Cities – New York City (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx)
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-278 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|Verrazano Narrows Br||181,405|
Source: 2015 NYSDOT Traffic Data Viewer
The western leg of I-278 was formally dropped in 1967 due to costs.
A narrow steel truss bridge with just four lanes and no shoulders, the Goethals Bridge connected Elizabeth, New Jersey with Staten Island, New York as part of Interstate 278. The bridge opened to traffic on June 29, 1928 after three years of construction. The $1.5 billion project to replace the aging span got underway officially on May 7, 2014. The public-private partnership constructed a new cable-stayed bridge featuring V-shaped towers supported by 144 stay cables.
Installation of the stay cables got underway on July 12, 2016. Supporting the bridge deck, the cables tie directly into the support towers, which top out at 272 feet. Following the installation of all 72 stay cables for the eventual eastbound span, workers began building the roadway. With two-way traffic and four 11-foot travel lanes, the new eastbound span opened to New York-bound traffic on June 10, 2017, and New Jersey-bound motorists the following day.7 Following that traffic shift, the old Goethals Bridge permanently closed as crews continued work on the new westbound span.2,3
The westbound span for Interstate 278 opened to traffic on May 21, 2018, expanding the Goethals Bridge to three 12-foot travel lanes in each direction.2,3 Both bridges have 12 foot wide outside shoulders and 5 foot wide inside shoulders. The westbound crossing includes a 10-foot wide bikeway/pedestrian walkway. The Goethals Bridge can also accommodate future mass transit between the east and west roadway decks.10
Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps Project
The $130 million Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps Project redesigns the connection at the west end of Interstate 278 with U.S. 1 & 9. Managed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the two phase project will add ramps from I-278 west to U.S. 1/9 north and from the U.S. 1/9 south to the freeway east. Planning and preliminary design work started in late 2013. Final design is anticipated by late 2019, with construction underway from spring 2022 to spring 2024.
Predating the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), the Kosciuszko Bridge opened to traffic in 1939. With a steep grade, the span carried six lanes of traffic across Newtown Creek, just south of Interstate 495 (LIE). An $800 million project replaces the aging span with two three-lane cable stayed bridges. The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) awarded a $555 million contract for final design and construction of Phase 1 in June 2014.4 The first of two bridges opened to traffic on April 27, 2017.7 The eventual five-lane Queens-bound span accommodates two-way traffic while crews work on the companion westbound span.
The old bridge was imploded on October 1, 2017. The demolition makes way for the eventual Brooklyn-bound bridge for I-278 west as part of Phase 2.8 This four-lane span will include a 20 foot wide bikeway/walkway.5 Phase 2 is scheduled for completion in 2020. More details are available at the Kosciuszko Bridge Project web site.
Interstate 278 was originally planned to run north along the Sheridan Expressway through the north Bronx to the New England Thruway (Interstate 95). The 5.2 mile long portion north of the Cross Bronx Expressway was never built, and on June 23, 1969 the route was deleted by AASHTO from the Sheridan Expressway and reassigned over the Bruckner Expressway (then I-878) east to I-95 and I-295 at the Bruckner Interchange. For a detailed history of Interstate 278, visit Steve Anderson’s pages on NYCRoads.com:
- Union Freeway
- Goethals Bridge
- Staten Island Expressway
- Verrazzano Narrows Bridge
- Gowanus Expressway
- Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE)
- Triborough Bridge
- Bruckner Expressway
- Sheridan Expressway – originally signed as Interstate 278, it was renumbered as Interstate 895
Originally, Interstate 278 was proposed to continue west from U.S. 1 & 9 at Linden to join Interstate 78 and New Jersey 24 at Springfield Township. That extension was canceled when mileage for it was reallotted for construction of Interstate 195 between Trenton and Belmar.
The Triborough Bridge, named because it connected the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens, was formally renamed to honor Robert F. Kennedy at a ceremony held in Astoria, Queens on November 19, 2008. Kennedy was a Senator and United States attorney general who was assassinated in 1968 while running for the Democratic nomination for President. Efforts to rename the span were spearheaded by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. $4 million in funds were spent to manufacture new signs for the span.6
East End – The Bronx, New York City, New York
West End – Linden, New Jersey
- Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- “Cuomo announces official ‘start’ of $1.5B Goethals replacement.” Staten Island Advance, May 4, 2014.
- “New Goethals Bridge: Installation of stay cables begins.” Staten Island Advance, July 15, 2016.
- Construction of a New Kosciuszko Bridge, June 2014 news letter, New York State Department of
- “New Kosciuszko Bridge Work Moving Forward.” Queens Tribune, October 1, 2015.
- “The Triborough Is Officially the R.F.K. Bridge.” City Room (NY Times) blog, November 19, 2008.
- “It’s done! New Goethals Bridge opens this weekend. Here are the details.” NJ.com, June 8, 2017.
- “Governor Cuomo Announces First Span of New Kosciusko Bridge Set to Open on April 27, 2017.” New York State Governor’s Press Office. August 23, 2017.
- “A Gray Puff, and the Old Kosciuszko Bridge Is No More.” The New York Times, October 1, 2017.
- “New span of the Goethals Bridge set to open by Monday morning.” Staten Island Advance (NY), May 17, 2018.
Page updated January 28, 2019.