By Neal Buccino, Media Relations Staff
Photography by Mike Dombrowki, Port Authority Staff
Sometimes, to replace an enormous bridge, you first have to replace a smaller one.
The Goethals Bridge is 1.3 miles long, and currently undergoing a historic replacement. But that job couldn’t proceed without the demolition and replacement of its relatively puny neighbor — the 212-foot-long Travis Spur Rail Bridge at the foot of the Goethals, which carries train tracks over I-278 in Staten Island.
The rail bridge crosses over roads that carry traffic to and from the Goethals, and its concrete piers constricted the width of those roads that needed to be expanded to connect traffic with the new Goethals, which will be twice as wide as its functionally obsolete 88-year-old predecessor.
It’s not easy to tear down a steel bridge, demolish its concrete supports and replace them with something new. But the Port Authority, in partnership with developer NYNJ Link and contractor KWM, managed to get the job done in two and a half days – nine hours ahead of schedule.
If you think that’s quick, check out this time-lapse video by the Port Authority’s Mike Dombrowski. Be sure to click the YouTube icon at the bottom of the video to watch the action.
In the two-minute video, the original Travis bridge vanishes within seconds (actually the work of several hours on a Friday night), after being sliced and pummeled by giant excavator-mounted shears and jackhammers. Then comes the grand finale, as cranes stack up concrete sections to make the new piers and self-driving vehicles slide two prefabricated steel spans into place, creating the new Travis Spur Rail Bridge.
It was all done with great efficiency and, thanks to plenty of advance planning and coordination with police and other partners on both sides of the Arthur Kill, minimal impacts to traffic.
As for the Goethals Bridge Replacement Project, it continues at full speed.