STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) --The Goethals Bridge is being replaced, and the new $1.5 billion structure is the first Port Authority Bridge span to be built in 80 years.
The cable-stayed design of the new bridge is one of the first in the region, towering over the Arthur Kill, and Eyewitness News got an exclusive sneak peek.
"There's no frills here," Goethals Bridge Moderation Program director Jim Blackmore said. "This is like getting what you want, in what engineers call a matter of simple elegance."
The old Goethals Bridge has outlived its time after opening in 1928 without a center divider at a time when traffic was light and Model A's were king of the road. Now the bridge is functionally obsolete, with lanes only 10 feet wide. The new structure is made to increase the traffic flow.
"The bridge is going to have three 12-foot lanes in each direction, a 12-foot shoulder and a smaller shoulder on the inside," he said.
The scaffolding stairs are 14 stories to the top, and if you are gazing out over the active waterway, you wonder how engineers will make both sides meet in the middle.
"They are built within tolerances," Blackmore said. "So when you get to the middle, they should be very close. There is a certain amount of movement that can be allowed to make that match-up occur."
Some of the workers are stationed in big boxes called bird cages, which insulate construction from weather so the work keeps going. Once complete, the new bridge will also have a bike and pedestrian crossing, and it can also be adapted to meet future transportation needs.
"The two structures could someday be connected in the center, to support up to and including light rail in the middle," Blackmore said.