Environmental Impact Statement Goethals Bridge Replacement Logo
 
Frequently Asked Questions
 

Why was the Goethals Bridge studied?

Given the deficiencies of the existing bridge, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Goethals Bridge Replacement evaluated different alternatives for replacing or otherwise improving the Goethals Bridge in order to select one that would best meet the current and future transportation needs on the bridge, in its travel corridor, and in the NY/NJ region, while minimizing adverse social, economic, and environmental effects.

Why was the bridge being studied again? What was different from the SIBP EIS that was completed in 1997?

In the years since completion of the Staten Island Bridges Program (SIBP) EIS, the physical and functional obsolescence of the bridge and the need for replacing the bridge became more pronounced. The GBR EIS identified and re-evaluated potential solutions for the bridge so that the facility may better meet present and anticipated future transportation needs.

Is the bridge safe?

The Goethals Bridge, which opened for traffic in 1928, is safe for travel, due to continuous and costly repairs, maintenance, and rehabilitation work performed by the Port Authority (the Bridge’s owner and operator) over the past 20 to 30 years. The most recent repairs were interim measures that are expected to extend the life of the structure another 7 to 10 years. After that, a complete deck replacement with seismic retrofit will likely be required to keep the bridge in service. It is anticipated that increasing traffic volumes of larger-weight vehicles than those for which the bridge was designed will both further stress the aging structure’s condition and continue to result in higher than average accident rates.

Why was the Coast Guard the lead federal agency?

The GBR EIS was prepared in accordance with regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. NEPA regulations govern the environmental review process for projects that require federal action to ensure that all significant issues are identified and the full range of alternatives and impacts of a proposed project are addressed.   The Goethals Bridge crosses the Arthur Kill, a navigable waterway of the United States.  As the federal agency responsible for navigable waterways, the Coast Guard issues bridge permits. Since issuance of the bridge permit is the major federal action for the Goethals Bridge Replacement project, the Coast Guard assumed the lead agency role.

What was the Port Authority’s role in preparation of the EIS?

The Port Authority is the project sponsor proposing the replacement of the Goethals Bridge as part of its Goethals Bridge Modernization Program. As the project sponsor, the Port Authority contracted with a consultant team under the direction of the Coast Guard to provide the planning, environmental, and engineering services necessary to prepare the EIS. The Port Authority, as applicant for a Coast Guard bridge permit, provided necessary traffic and design input to the EIS.

How was the public involved in the EIS process?

The first formal opportunity for public participation was the EIS scoping process. The public was encouraged to provide the Coast Guard with comments and other input on issues related to the proposed action to be addressed in the Draft EIS (DEIS). Following the formal scoping process, the public was invited to provide comment and other input throughout the EIS process. Project information was made available to the public on this EIS website, in periodic newsletters and press releases, and in reports that were posted on this website. Following completion and issuance of the DEIS, public meetings were held in Staten Island, New York, and in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to gather comments on the document; those comments were addressed in the Final EIS (FEIS).

Why were only four bridge crossing alternatives evaluated?

The alternatives initially considered in the screening process included a total of 15 bridge-replacement, transit, freight-movement, and travel-demand-management alternatives.  Eleven alternatives were not advanced beyond the first level of screening as they did not address the project purpose and need and project goals.

On the basis of the screening evaluations of the initial alternatives considered; input received during outreach meetings; and the later  design studies conducted to address the height limitations set for the bridge-replacement alternatives by the Federal Aviation Administration and other stakeholders, the following refined bridge-replacement alternatives were evaluated in the DEIS:

    • “New” Alignment South (formerly 6-lane Replacement Bridge – South)
    • “New” Alignment North (formerly 6-lane Replacement Bridge – North)
    • “Existing” Alignment South (formerly Twin Replacement Bridges - South)
    • “Existing” Alignment North (formerly Twin Replacement Bridges - North)
Click here for more information about the refined alternatives.

Why didn't the project consider freight?

The study initially considered several freight movement alternatives but concluded that, while they may be worthy of consideration in other studies, none of them would address the specific purpose and need for this proposed project.  However, truck traffic was evaluated in the GBR EIS as a component of the traffic impact analyses.

Why not rehabilitate the existing bridge?

Rehabilitation of the existing bridge would not meet the project’s principal purpose and need, which is to address the existing structure’s functional and physical obsolescence which includes reduction of traffic congestion, safety considerations, and future transit opportunities.

What will be the height of a new proposed bridge?

The proposed height of the towers for the bridge-replacement alternatives is 272 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL) to eliminate any conflicts with aviation traffic.  However, the final height  is determined through the Coast Guard's formal bridge permitting process.  The vertical clearance of a replacement bridge(s) over the Arthur Kill's navigable channel is expected to be, at minimum, that of the existing bridge, which is 135 feet above mean high water (MHW), although it may be slightly higher.  Maximum bridge tower height will be designed to accommodate the requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration and the major airlines operating at Newark Liberty International Airport, as they relate to the flight patterns of aircraft leaving and approaching the airport.

Will a new bridge have bicycle/pedestrian access?

Yes, the proposed new bridge structure would include, at minimum, a 10-foot wide lane dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian use.

Why did the study only extend to the year 2030?

The year 2030 was based on the original estimate of time of completion of construction plus 20 years, as is the practice for EIS impact analyses. During preparation of the EIS, the study year was updated to 2034.

What was the study area for traffic impacts?

Two study areas were defined for the analysis of potential traffic impacts.  One regional traffic study area included the major roadways in a 28-county area in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.  The other was a more corridor-specific study area surrounding the Goethals Bridge that included communities like Elizabeth, Union, Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, and Jersey City, in New Jersey, and Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, in New York. 

What will be the impacts on local traffic in Elizabeth?

Potential impacts to local traffic in Elizabeth – and for other locations throughout the traffic study area -- were studied in the detailed evaluation of the bridge-replacement alternatives and are documented in Section 5.20 of the FEIS.

Will the transition from a six-lane bridge to four lanes on both sides of the bridge result in bottlenecks?

The detailed traffic impact analyses conducted of the bridge-replacement alternatives are documented in Section 5.20 of the FEIS and, as necessary, mitigation measures to alleviate any bottlenecks are also discussed.

What is the predominant direction of traffic in the morning peak period?

Travel on the Goethals Bridge during the morning peak-commuting period is reverse of what might be expected, as more vehicles travel westbound towards New Jersey in the morning than towards New York.

Why is the new bridge designed to achieve only a Level of Service (LOS) D?

The proposed new facility will be designed so that, during most times of day, the level of congestion will allow traffic to flow.  During the peak morning commuting hour, the bridge will experience heavy traffic flows without excessive delays;   in other words, it would operate at LOS D.  This will be an improvement over the current breakdown conditions (LOS F) experienced during peak travel times on the existing bridge.  

Will there be transit on a new bridge?

Traffic modeling done for the EIS demonstrated that there would not be enough riders to warrant a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane or light rail transit (LRT) on a replacement bridge with six lanes, and that dedicating a lane strictly to buses would result in unacceptable traffic volumes in the remaining lanes.  However, the conceptual designs for the bridge-replacement alternatives studied in the EIS did not preclude the ability to accommodate some form of transit in the future, if and as warranted.

Who were the members of the Stakeholder Committee (SC)?

The purpose of the SC was to provide a forum for discussion and encourage interaction about EIS-related issues among key stakeholder organizations and entities potentially affected by the proposed Goethals Bridge Replacement Project. Therefore, representatives of organizations in the study area with a stake in the project were invited to participate in the SC.  Public Open Houses were held for members of the general public.

How were property impacts addressed in the EIS process?

The GBR EIS evaluated four bridge-replacement alternatives.  Potential right-of-way and property impacts were discussed in Section 5.2 of the FEIS. 

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» Record of Decision (ROD) for Goethals Bridge Replacement Executed on January 31, 2011
» Final EIS (FEIS) Published in August 2010
» Preferred Alternative Selected – New Alignment South