Interstate 278 New Jersey / New York

Interstate 278 New Jersey Interstate 278 New York

History
East End
West End

Overview

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.

I-278 Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge

Connecting Staten Island with Brooklyn, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge opened to traffic on November 21, 1964. A six lane deck added below the original deck opened on June 28, 1969.1 12/17/17

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.

Route Information

  • East End – The Bronx, New York, NY

  • West End – Linden, NJ

  • Total Mileage – 35.62

New Jersey – 2.00

  • Cities – Elizabeth

  • JunctionsI-95 NJ Turnpike

New York – 33.62

  • Cities – New York City (Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx)

  • JunctionsI-478 I-495 I-87 NY 895 I-95 I-678 I-295

Source: December 31, 2021 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

I-278 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)

Location Vehicles per day
Goethals Br 80,346
Staten Island 158,806
Verrazano Narrows Br 181,405
Brooklyn 164,326
Koskuisko Br 152,344
Woodside, Queens 109,626
Astoria, Queens 48,202
RFK Br 156,598
Bronx 112,942
I-278 North Jersey - 1961
The planned alignment of Interstate 278 leading north from Linden to Springfield in 1961.

The western leg of I-278 was formally dropped in 1967 due to costs.

Goethals Bridge

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.

Rendering of the new Goethels Bridge

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.

Kosciuszko Bridge

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

History

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

East End I-95 I-295 I-678 Hutchinson River Parkway – The Bronx, New York City, New York

I-278 East at I-95 I-295 I-678

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

The upcoming Bruckner Interchange represents the transitions of the Cross Bronx Expressway from I-95 north to I-295 south and the Bruckner Expressway from I-278 east to I-95 north. 05/30/22

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

Exit 53 leaves I-278 (Bruckner Expressway) east to White Plains Road and Unionport in the Bronx a half mile ahead of the exchange with I-295 and I-678. 05/30/22

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

I-278 east defaults onto the continuation of the Bruckner Expressway along Interstate 95 north beyond Exit 54. 05/30/22

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

Exit 54 separates next for I-295 south to the Throgs Neck Bridge, I-678 south to Whitestone Bridge and Hutchinson River Parkway north to Mt. Vernon. 05/30/22

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

Interstate 278 partitions with three lanes joining I-95 north to New Rochelle and New Haven, Connecticut. 05/30/22

I-278 east at I-295/678 - Bronx, NY

Traffic from I-278 partitions with a two lane ramp departing for I-678 and the Whitestone Bridge south to Flushing, Key Gardens and JFK International Airport. 05/30/22

I-95 South at I-278

I-95 south at I-278/678 - Bronx, NY

Interstate 95 (Bruckner Expressway) angles southwest from I-695 to the Bruckner Interchange (Exits 6 B/A) with I-278, I-678 and Hutchinson River Parkway. 05/30/22

I-95 south at I-278/678 - Bronx, NY

The Bruckner Expressway transitions onto Interstate 278 via Left Exit 6B as I-95 overtakes the Cross Bronx Expressway from the end of I-295 north. 05/30/22

I-95 south at I-278/678 - Bronx, NY

Interstate 278 runs southwest through all five of New York City’s boroughs. I-95 and I-278 meet again west of the Goethals Bridge in Elizabeth, New Jersey. 05/30/22

I-678 North at I-95 I-278

I-678 north at I-95/278 - Bronx, NY

Left Exit 19W joins Interstate 278 (Bruckner Expressway) west through the Unionport and Soundview neighborhoods in the Bronx to the Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge. 12/17/17

I-678 north at I-95/278 - Bronx, NY

Two lanes continue beyond Left Exit 19W onto Interstate 95 (Cross Bronx Expressway) southbound toward the George Washington Bridge joining New York City with Fort Lee, New Jersey. The north end of I-295 ties into both I-95 south and I-278 west here as well. 12/17/17

I-278 East End Throwback

I-278 East at I-95 I-295 I-678 Hutchinson River Parkway

I-278 east at Bruckner Interchange - 2004
I-278 east at Bruckner Interchange - 2004
I-278 east at Bruckner Interchange - 2004
I-278 east at Bruckner Interchange - 2004

Button copy signs along I-278 east leading into the Bruckner Interchange were replaced by 2011. 08/09/04

I-678 North at I-95 I-278

I-678 north at Bruckner Interchange - 2005

I-678 continued north from the Whitestone Bridge toll plaza to Exit 18 for Lafayette Avenue (Exit 18) and the Bruckner Interchange with I-95/278. There is no connection to I-295 south (Cross Bronx Expressway Extension east) from northbound I-678. 08/29/05

I-678 north at Bruckner Interchange - 2005

Sign replacements made by the Lafayette Avenue overpass assigned the ramp for I-95 north to New Haven, Connecticut as Exit 19N and the subsequent ramps for I-95 south and I-278 west as Exits 19S and 19W respectively. 08/29/05

I-678 north at Bruckner Interchange - 2005

Original button copy signs for the three lane ramp on I-678 north to the Bruckner Interchange. 08/29/05

West End US 1 US 9 – Linden, New Jersey

I-278 West at US 1 US 9

I-278 west at I-95/NJ Tpk - Elizabeth

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).

I-278 west at US 1/9 - Linden, NJ

Part of the cancelled Union Freeway, the west end of Interstate 278 defaults onto U.S. 1/9 south into Linden. An end sign with an erroneous New Jersey Route 1-9 shield was replaced by 2019. 12/17/17

I-278 west at US 1/9 - Linden, NJ

The two lanes from I-278 west combine with the three southbound lanes of U.S. 1/9 beyond a railroad overpass. 12/17/17

I-278 west at US 1/9 - Linden, NJ

Ramps depart from both I-278 west and U.S. 1/9 south for the left turn to the Conoco Linden plant entrance. The two roadways combine beyond the ensuing traffic light. 12/17/17

I-278 west at US 1/9 - Linden, NJ

Milepost zero for Interstate 278 west stands ahead of the gore point for the plant entrance. 12/17/17

US 1 US 9 North at I-278

US 1/9 north at I-278 - Linden, NJ

Two lanes partition from U.S. 1/9 north for Interstate 278 east toward the New Jersey Turnpike and the Goethals Bridge into Staten Island, New York. 05/31/22

US 1/9 north at I-278 - Linden, NJ

U.S. 1-9 continue north from the wye interchange with Interstate 278 east into Elizabeth as Interstate 278. Milepost zero for I-278 formerly preceded the two lane ramp. 05/31/22

Sources:

  1. Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System: Previous Interstate Facts of the Day by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  2. “Cuomo announces official ‘start’ of $1.5B Goethals replacement.” Staten Island Advance, May 4, 2014.
  3. “New Goethals Bridge: Installation of stay cables begins.” Staten Island Advance, July 15, 2016.
  4. “Construction of a New Kosciuszko Bridge.” New York State Department of Transportation, June 2014 news letter.
  5. “New Kosciuszko Bridge Work Moving Forward.” Queens Tribune, October 1, 2015.
  6. The Triborough Is Officially the R.F.K. Bridge.City Room (NY Times) blog, November 19, 2008.
  7. “It’s done! New Goethals Bridge opens this weekend. Here are the details.” NJ.com, June 8, 2017.
  8. “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.
  9. A Gray Puff, and the Old Kosciuszko Bridge Is No More.The New York Times, October 1, 2017.
  10. “New span of the Goethals Bridge set to open by Monday morning.” Staten Island Advance (NY), May 17, 2018.
  11. “Port Authority Board of Commissioners Authorizes Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps Project.” The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, press release. July 24, 2013.
  12. Goethals Bridge Interchange Ramps – I-278 and U.S. Route 1 & 9 Interchange. https://old.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/goethals-bridge-missing-links.html The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, project web page.
  13. “Kosciuszko Bridge’s second, Brooklyn-bound span officially debuts.” Curbed NY, August 29, 2019.

Page updated June 9, 2022.