Port Authority Board Approves Planning Effort For 75-Year-Old Crossing
More than 75 years after the Goethals Bridge first carried traffic between New Jersey and Staten Island, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today approved plans to explore future options for the critical bistate crossing.
The Commissioners authorized the preparation of an environmental impact statement that will study options and recommend a preferred alternative to upgrade the bridge. The preferred alternative will improve customer service, modernize the bridge, provide the capacity for transit options, and enhance the safety and reliability of the crossing. The program includes a comprehensive public input process.
The Goethals Bridge, which opened in 1928, has two 10-foot lanes in each direction, which do not meet today’s 12-foot-wide highway design standards. The bridge has no shoulders for emergency access. It also serves as the primary route for commercial traffic serving the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, which is the region’s military port of embarkation in the event of a national emergency.
New York Governor George E. Pataki said, \"Each day, more than 80,000 vehicles use the Goethals Bridge serving customers traveling for work, business, recreation and tourism. This bridge is a key transportation link among business and residential centers, and that is why it is critical that we explore its long-term future to maintain commerce and mobility in the region.\"
New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey said, \"The Goethals Bridge is an integral component in national preparedness, homeland security and regional mobility. We must explore how this bridge can safely handle traffic demand for traveling between the two states, both today and for generations to come.\"
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, \"The Goethals Bridge provides a strategic link between Newark Liberty International Airport, the New Jersey Marine Terminals, Howland Hook Marine Terminal and John F. Kennedy International Airport. Our economic strength and our quality of life depend on effectively planning for the bridge’s future, and our efforts will help make sure the Goethals Bridge remains a viable part of moving people and goods throughout the region.\"
Port Authority Vice Chairman Charles A. Gargano said, \"This analysis of the Goethals Bridge will carefully evaluate how the crossing fits in with other key highways and bridges in New York, including the Staten Island Expressway, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and West Shore Expressway.\"
Port Authority Executive Director Joseph J. Seymour said, \"This initiative is part of our aggressive multi-million-dollar investment program to maintain and upgrade the Port Authority’s bridges and tunnels, which are the backbone of the region’s transportation system.\"
Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro said, \"I am very happy to see that the Port Authority has started planning for the future of the Goethals Bridge. The existing structure is simply outdated. It lacks sufficient lane space that makes traveling across the bridge a harrowing experience for drivers. This problem will only be compounded with the increase in truck traffic Staten Island expects to see with the expansion of Howland Hook. Therefore, designing a bridge capable of meeting the current and future needs of the Staten Island community becomes paramount.\"
Following today’s Board action, the Port Authority will initiate a comprehensive environmental review of the project with the United States Coast Guard as the lead agency. The process allows sufficient opportunity for public input.
The Port Authority Board originally authorized studies of the future transportation needs between Staten Island and New Jersey in 1988. By 1997, several alternative designs were developed for the Goethals Bridge and a final environmental impact statement was released. Public hearings on the document were held, but the U.S. Coast Guard, the lead agency on the study, did not issue a record of decision due to unresolved stakeholder and constituent concerns. The 75-year-old bridge has since required priority repairs and maintenance.
The Goethals Bridge carries 31 million vehicles each year and provides connections to the New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 1 & 9 and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. In addition, the bridge sustains growing economic activity on Staten Island, handling more than $33 billion of regional goods each year.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.