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. The bridge opened for 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
Authorized by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on July 24, 2013,11 the Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps Project outlined redesigning the connection at the west end of Interstate 278 with U.S. 1/9. Managed alongside the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), the $130 million, two phase project proposed adding ramps from I-278 west to U.S. 1/9 north and from U.S. 1/9 south to the freeway east. Planning and preliminary design work started in late 2013. Final design was anticipated by late 2019, with construction estimated to run from Spring 2022 to Spring 2024.12 However as of 2022 no construction started.
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 (Long Island Expressway). An $800 million project replaced the aging span with a pair of 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 eventual Queens bound bridge opened with two-way traffic on April 27, 2017 while crews work on the companion westbound span.7
Imploded on October 1, 2017, the demolition of the old span made way for construction of the Brooklyn bound bridge as part of Phase 2.8 The bridge for I-278 westbound accommodates four lanes and includes a 20 foot wide bikeway/walkway.5 Supported by a 287 foot high towers, the 952 foot long span opened to traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on August 28, 2019.13 Phase 2 was originally scheduled for completion in 2020.
Following the completion of the second span for the Kosciuszko Bridge, traffic for I-278 eastbound expanded to five lanes and I-278 westbound to four lanes. Overall construction on the bridge was on budget at $873 million.13
Interstate 278 travels northeast along the elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) toward the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge in Brooklyn. Predating the Interstate Highway System, the BEQ was built in sections starting with the Kosciuszko Bridge in 1939 and ending with a segment near the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1960.
Interstate 278 was originally planned to run 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, I-278 was deleted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (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:
Originally, I-278 was proposed to continue west from U.S. 1/9 at Linden to join Interstate 78 and New Jersey Route 24 at Springfield Township. That extension was canceled when mileage for it was reallocated 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