Interstate 278 New Jersey / New York
Interstate 278 begins in an industrial area between Linden and Elizabeth at 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 Robert F. Kennedy (Triboro) Bridge is partially located, falls within the borough of Manhattan. Like I-478, I-678 and I-878, I-278 does not meet Interstate 78.
An older, urban freeway, Interstate 278 offers excellent views of the Manhattan skyline along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The route crosses several bridges along its course, including the Goethals Bridge between Elizabeth, New Jersey and Staten Island, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge between Staten Island and Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko Bridge between Brooklyn and Queens, and the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge between Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. Interstate 278 follows a combination of the Staten Island Expressway, Gowanus Expressway, Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), Grand Central Parkway and Bruckner Expressway.
Unlike most Interstate Highways in New York City, trucks are prohibited along the section of I-278 on Grand Central Parkway through Astoria, Queens. Specifically, trucks must use the service roads parallel to Grand Central Parkway on this stretch.
I-278 concludes at the massive Bruckner interchange, where it converges with I-95, I-295, I-678 and Hutchinson River Parkway.
New Jersey – 2.00
New York – 33.62
Source: December 31, 2021 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. 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.
New #Kosciuszko #Bridge construction aerial photos pic.twitter.com/o4aQv2SgAL
— NYSDOT New York City (@NYSDOT_NYC) July 13, 2016
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:
- 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 I-278, it was renumbered as Interstate 895
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
East End – The Bronx, New York City, New York
East End Throwback
Button copy signs along I-278 east leading into the Bruckner Interchange were replaced by 2011. 08/09/04
West End – Linden, New Jersey
I-278 west lowers from the Goethals Bridge directly into an interchange with I-95 (New Jersey Turnpike). Traffic partitions with two lanes leading onto the NJ Turnpike north to Newark and south to New Brunswick via Left Exit 3 A. Exit 3B to Route 439 along Cole Place departs simultaneously with Exit 3 C to Bayway Avenue east while a single lane continues westward along the I-278 spur to Elizabeth. Photo by Eric Stuve (07/19/14).
- 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.” New York State Department of Transportation, June 2014 news letter.
- “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.
- “Port Authority Board of Commissioners Authorizes Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps Project.” The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, press release. July 24, 2013.
- Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps – I-278 and U.S. Route 1 & 9 Interchange.
https://old.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/goethals-bridge-missing-links.htmlThe Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, project web page.
- “Kosciuszko Bridge’s second, Brooklyn-bound span officially debuts.” Curbed NY, August 29, 2019.
Page updated June 9, 2022.