One of the "firsts" in the Port Authority legacy, the Goethals Bridge was built as part of an overall project to accommodate greatly increased interstate automobile traffic following World War I. The bridge spans the Arthur Kill, linking Elizabeth, NJ, with the Howland Hook area of Staten Island, NY. The Goethals Bridge and the Outerbridge Crossing, which are similar in design, were the first facilities constructed by the Port Authority. The 140-foot channel clearance of the Goethals Bridge permits passage of deep-sea vessels through the Arthur Kill.
The Goethals Bridge is one of three Staten Island bridges linking New York and New Jersey. It leads directly to the New Jersey Turnpike at Interchange 13, and is accessible by Routes 1 and 9 and other New Jersey highways. It is a major route for traffic moving between Brooklyn and New Jersey with its direct connection via the Staten Island Expressway (I-278) to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. By providing important intermodal connections to highway networks, railroads, the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal, and Newark Liberty International Airport, the bridge sustains growing economic activity on Staten Island. More than $33 billion of regional goods pass over the bridge each year.
The Goethals Bridge opened on June 29, 1928, the same day as the Outerbridge Crossing. This marked the successful completion of the then-fledgling Port Authority's first bistate development project. The bridge was named in memory of Major General George W. Goethals, builder of the Panama Canal and the first consulting engineer of the Port Authority. Coincidentally, June 29 would have also been General Goethals' 70th birthday, but the accomplished engineer died three months before the bridge's dedication. That month also marked the establishment of the Port Authority Police Department, whose first responsibility was to patrol and protect the Goethals Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing. These 40 original officers were called "Bridgemen," nine of whom were later promoted to the rank of "Bridgemaster."