Goethals Bridge: The Circularity of Steel Bridge Construction

The Goethals Bridge was named after General George Washington Goethals, a Brooklyn native who supervised the construction of the Panama Canal and was the first consulting engineer of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The original cantilevered through-truss bridge built in 1928 provided reliable service and was a prominent skyline silhouette for 85 years.

A new bridge design was proposed to add capacity between Staten Island and New Jersey. After a long journey of studies, measuring environmental impact, and widening of the interstate, the new-and-improved Goethals Bridge, a striking pair of cable-stayed bridges, was completed in 2017 and 2018.

Goethals Bridge

Goethals Bridge, image courtesy of Nucor Corporation

The original bridge had a poetic ending, and following completion of the new bridges, the original Goethals through-truss was demolished and recycled to make new steel, exemplifying the circularity of steel bridge construction.

The cable-stayed design was chosen for the new Goethals Bridge due to its signature bridge aesthetic appeal, reduced costs for construction and maintenance, and speed of construction. Cable-stayed bridges are among the most efficient types of bridges for long span lengths and when built with a steel superstructure, the lighter weight further increases efficiencies. The Port Authority utilized a design-build-finance-maintain (DBFM) P3 arrangement with the New York-New Jersey (NYNJ) Link Partnership which encouraged the construction and investment teams to identify the most efficient design alternative with the highest potential return on investment. In the Request for Quote (RFQ), the Port Authority re-emphasized its intention for the P3 to be a DBFM with availability payments and requested developers to deliver proposals that integrated design, construction, and operational aspects to minimize life cycle costs, maximize service life, optimizing risk allocation between the parties and generating savings through private sector innovation. The Porth Authority was quoted saying, “[We] chose the cable-stayed design because of its cost-effective ability to meet the needs of a bridge of this size and traffic volume” (Sommer, 20161).

The new cable-stayed structures provide an improved navigational clearance in the strait with a main span length of 900 feet and minimum vertical channel clearance of 138.5 feet. They also increase capacity and driver comfort and safety with wider and more lanes of travel in each direction, generous shoulders, and protected pedestrian bike paths. Nucor is proud to have contributed to this economically important project by providing over 8,000 tons of rebar, more than 200,000 high-strength fasteners, over 2,000 tons of piling steel, and more than 7,000 tons of discrete heavy plate.

1 Sommer, Cassy. "New Goethals Bridge: Installation of Stay Cables Begins." Silive.Com, 15 Jul. 2016, Accessed 1 May 2023.

Project Highlights

  • Staten Island, New York and Elizabeth, New Jersey

  • 7,000+ tons

  • 200,000+

  • 2,000+ tons

  • 8,000 tons

  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

    Joint contractor venture between Kiewit Corporation, Weeks Marine, and Massman Construction Company

    Designed by Parsons

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