The $1.5 billion Goethals Bridge Replacement Project involves the construction of a new bridge to replace the aging, existing Goethals Bridge, which carries I-278 traffic across the Arthur Kill channel between Staten Island, New York and Elizabeth, New Jersey. The bridge is owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (Port Authority) and is one of three toll bridge crossings between Staten Island and New Jersey.
The existing Goethals Bridge carries four narrow 10-foot travel lanes with no shoulders, and serves 80,000 vehicles per day. The Replacement Project will include the construction of two new parallel cable-stayed bridges providing three 12-foot travel lanes, a 12-foot outer shoulder, and a five-foot inner shoulder per span. The northern span will also include a 10-foot wide sidewalk and bikeway along its northern edge. Space will also be provided between the replacement spans to accommodate possible transit service in the future. The replacement bridge is being built to the south of the existing Goethals Bridge, which will remain in service during the construction period and then be demolished after the new spans open to traffic.
The project is being delivered as a public-private partnership (P3) between the Port Authority and NYNJ Link LLC, a partnership between Macquarie Capital and Kiewit. Under this design, build, finance and maintenance (DBFM) concession, NYNJ Link will construct the new bridge and then perform operational and capital maintenance over a 35-year operating period following substantial completion of the project. The Port Authority will retain ownership of the assets, as well as operational responsibilities including toll collection. The Port Authority will make milestone payments to the private developer upon completion of specified construction activities, as well as monthly payments based on performance and availability of the replacement bridge once it is operational.
The Goethals Bridge was one of the first two facilities constructed in the late 1920’s by the Port Authority, opening in 1928. By 1988, growing traffic levels in the region led the Port Authority Board of Commissioners to authorize the study of capacity enhancements of its Staten Island Bridges. By 1997, the Port Authority had developed a conceptual plan to add a second span to the Goethals Bridge.
Continuing concerns regarding the functional obsolescence and safety conditions on the existing bridge, however, led the Port Authority to commission a new environmental study in 2003 to assess options for the improving the Goethals Bridge with the goals of modernizing the bridge, improving customer service, providing additional capacity for transit options, and enhancing safety and reliability. That study found that building a new, improved replacement bridge would be more cost-effective than continuing to rehabilitate and maintain the older span, and would better address the bridge's obsolete design.
As it was completing its environmental study for the modernization of the Goethals Bridge in 2009, the Port Authority also began to explore alternative financing and delivery options for the project, an effort that identified a DBFM P3 arrangement as a potential strategy. Encouraging industry feedback obtained from a May 2010 Request for Information solicitation led the agency to pursue the P3 DBFM path, issuing a Request for Qualifications from potential private investment partners in October 2010 and a formal Request for Proposals to three shortlisted bidders in August 2011. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a Record of Decision approving the environmental study for the project in January 2011.
In April 2013, the Port Authority awarded the P3 contract to NYNJ Link Partnership, reaching commercial close in August 2013 and financial close (including a $473 million TIFIA loan) in November 2013. Construction began in May 2014 and is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2017. The Goethals Bridge Replacement will be the Port Authority’s first new bridge in more than 80 years and is the first transportation project in the northeastern U.S. to be delivered under a long-term P3 concession.
Project Financing and Delivery
NYNJ Link’s financing sources for the Goethals Bridge Replacement Project include $461 million in tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds; a $47 million TIFIA loan; and $107 million in private equity from the concessionaire. The Port Authority will also make $150 million in milestone payments to the developer as work on the project progresses.
Availability payments to the concessionaire from the Port Authority will be drawn from the agency’s consolidated revenues and are not tied to the use of the new Goethals Bridge.
The Port Authority also expects to directly incur $303 million in costs related to the project for planning and engineering, site acquisition, project contingencies, and other costs.