By Neal Buccino, Media Relations Staff
Good bones are important. But you can’t lift heavy weights without muscles of steel.
Such is the case for a class of bridges called cable stayed bridges, of which the new Goethals Bridge, under construction between Staten Island, N.Y. and Elizabeth, N.J., promises to be this region’s most visually striking example.
This month, the new bridge is finally gaining its muscles – specifically, its powerful stay cables. Workers have installed the first of what will be 144 stay cables, each up to 400 feet long and 13 inches in diameter.
They will connect the bridge’s four sets of massive, V-shaped concrete towers to its twin roadways. As a constant stream of cars and trucks crosses the bridge, the cables’ extreme tension will transfer the weight of those vehicles from the roadways to the towers – the bridge’s concrete backbone. The towers, in turn, will channel all of the compressional force into the earth.
As shown in these photos by the Port Authority’s Mike Dombrowski, stay cable installation is a painstaking process.
Workers begin by threading a single strand – consisting of several steel wires tightly wound together and surrounded by a protective sheath – through a wide, high-density tube that will serve as the stay cable’s outer shell. A crane then hoists this arrangement up to a porthole-like anchor embedded in one of the concrete towers. The other end is fitted to a bazooka-shaped anchor at the bridge’s roadway. More of these strands are threaded through the tube, one by one, and anchored at the required level of tension.
As the process continues over the coming months, the stay cables will be installed in sets of four, with two pairs on either leg of the towers.
As they are installed, alternating between the New Jersey and New York sides of the Arthur Kill, each set will provide the structural strength necessary for workers to build out a new section of roadway. It will continue through the summer and fall, until the roadways extending from Elizabeth and Staten Island meet in the middle.
The new bridge’s eastbound roadway is expected to open early next year, at which point the existing Goethals Bridge – 88 years old and functionally obsolete – will be taken out of service. The Goethals replacement project will be complete, with both eastbound and westbound structures carrying traffic and the old bridge demolished, in 2018.
Extending out from the towers like giant harp strings, the Goethals stay cables are designed to embody the strength, endurance and beauty of a new era of bridges.