Finally! We can cross without a car! Today marked a milestone in the saga of the 1.5 billion dollar Goethals Bridge replacement with twin spans, a project that has been ongoing for years now.
At 10 AM this morning, the shared-use path finally opened, after residents of both New Jersey and New York have waited patiently, the original opening date set for September, 2018.
The new path is wide enough for emergency vehicles to ride on with ample room, with a width of ten feet, side-to-side. The path itself is quite long; if you’re not used to walking, the somewhat steep incline might be a bit much, totaling over 7,300 feet. It’s good exercise, though.
And, now Staten Island and Elizabeth residents can bike or walk over the span, without paying a toll. Finally, something free for us all!
And, those of us wishing to pollute less while traveling, finally have an option when traveling to points West.
A Staten Islander New Organization staff writer and a photographer walked the path together under crystal-clear azure blue skies.
The videos and photos accompanying this article convey the sights and sounds you are likely to encounter if you walk the newly opened path. Please remember it’s quite windy up there; also, it’s a long walk, and somewhat steep. Be prepared.
NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg could not contain her enthusiasm. “We’re excited about the opening of the new Goethals Bridge shared use path, and the new connections it will create for cyclists and pedestrians between Staten Island and Elizabeth…”
“…On foot or on two wheels, traveling between our two states has historically been a big challenge – so we thank the Port Authority for working with us to make the bridge and the New York City approaches more accessible. Those traveling across the state line on bike or by foot can now enjoy a great and sustainable trip complete with views for miles – never mind a trip free of all tolls.”
The path is safe for all, as it does not let out into traffic on either side, but rather new bike and pedestrian paths have been added to local streets on either side.
In fact, this is what had caused the delay. Riders crossing the span from New Jersey can loop around under the bridge, following the newly poured concrete path, ending up on Goethals Road North, then Western Avenue, and finally Gulf Avenue. From there, the bike path continues onto Forest Avenue.
And while there are tons of trucks going in and out of the container port at the end of Goethals Road North, pedestrians and those traveling by bike never have to vie for space on the road. Still, keep your eyes and ears open, just to be safe!
New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition Executive Director Ed Goodell stated in the PANYNJ Press Release, “”We applaud the much-anticipated completion of the Goethals Bridge bicycle and pedestrian path, which provides a new mobility option for people travelling between Union County and Staten Island…”
“…We support the Port Authority’s investment in the bridge’s shared use path and encourage the development of a more robust bike and pedestrian infrastructure along corridors leading to the City of Elizabeth.”
There are parking spaces on Gulf Ave
nue, so if you’re planning to take a walk, find a space there. Please do not park on Goethals Road North or Western Avenue; these are So Standing zones and parking rules are strictly enforced.
There are a few rules for use of the path. It’s only open from 6 AM to midnight. While both pedestrians and bicycles are permitted, cyclists must yield to all pedestrians. If you must pass, do so on the left. And finally, no loitering!
While it’s an incredible vista, you can’t have a picnic up there. But of course, no one is going to stop you if you pause for a few moments to take in the view, either.
Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole had this to say in a March 3, 2020 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Press Release:
“We are committed to creating more ways to link communities throughout our region. This new shared use path on the Goethals Bridge opens up dedicated and safe access for residents who want greener recreational and commuting options or those looking for a way to appreciate the scenic views as they cross this impressive span,” said . “We thank NYC DOT, NJ DOT and the City of Elizabeth for sharing our commitment to safety and green uses of shared space.”
Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton added:
“For the first time in its history, the Goethals Bridge has a shared use path dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Cycling and walking are environmentally friendly ways to get around and we want to expand these opportunities at our facilities whenever possible.”
The original Goethals Bridge, named after General Major General George W. Goethals, builder of the Panama Canal, who also served as the Port Authority’s first consulting engineer. The original span was opened in June, 1928.
While there was no official walkway or bike path, there was in fact a service walkway along the Northern side of the bridge. Locals, wishing to remain anonymous, shared with us that many people used to traverse the bridge using this path in the 1980s, although it was, in fact, against the law. According to our source, “It was before 9-11. Before the age of terrorism. Enforcement wasn’t as strict.”
Whether you plan to use the path for fun, fitness, or getting from point A to point B, it’s cause for celebration that we Islanders, and the people of local New Jersey towns and cities just West of Mariner’s Harbor, Old Town, and Arlington, now have another option.