By Steve Coleman, Media Relations Staff
Nearly 90 years ago, when the Goethals Bridge became one of the region’s first two interstate vehicle crossings, it accommodated Model T Fords, pedestrians – who paid 5 cents to walk across the span – and horses, whose riders paid 25 cents to make the trip over the Arthur Kill between Elizabeth, N.J. and Staten Island.
Today, as the final span of the new $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge opened to traffic, it signaled the completion of a state-of-the-art crossing designed to accommodate modern vehicular traffic, everything from large SUVs to pickup trucks (which didn’t exist in 1928) – and much heavier traffic volumes, more than 90,000 vehicles a day.
The new crossing is a far cry from the one built in the old days. Unlike the two 10-foot wide substandard lanes that were designed for vehicles in the 1920s and 1930s, the new bridge has three 12-foot standard width travel lanes in each direction, and 12-foot outer shoulders and five-foot inner shoulders on each of its twin spans.
The original bridge, which replaced ferries that previously transported people between the two states, was a steel truss cantilever design costing more than $7.2 million to build. It was replaced by a new duel-span, cable-stayed twin bridge similar to the design of more modern bridges such as the Kosciuszko Bridge in Queens, which opened in 2017.
While the old and new Goethals Bridges are vastly different, two similarities remain. Tolls were collected from the day the original bridge first opened (until August 1970, they were collected in both directions). Until recent decades, pedestrians were allowed to cross it on foot. The new bridge also will provide pedestrian access – free of charge.