For years, ferries serviced the island, taking residents from Staten Island to New Jersey and vice versa. During the late 1860's, the idea of a bridge connecting the two was introduced. In 1890, a railroad bridge was constructed, connecting Elizabethport, New Jersey and Staten Island's Howland Hook Marine Terminal. After the First World War, which lasted from 1914 to 1918, the demand rose for a bridge that could accommodate automobile traffic. By 1923, the New York and New Jersey Bridge and Tunnel Commission announced that they would be constructing two bridges that would serve such a purpose; one connecting northwestern Staten Island to New Jersey and the other connecting southwestern Staten Island.
Using the designs of John Alexander Low Waddell, the construction of the northwestern bridge began on September 1, 1925, under the authorization of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The first consulting engineer of this port district was George Washington Goethals. On June 20, 1928, the bridge was dedicated in honor of this man. On June 29, 1928, after having been fully constructed, the bridge opened to the public.
The Goethals Bridge, while convenient in its access to Elizabeth, New Jersey, does not have shoulders and does not meet the width requirement of twelve feet for its lanes. After a decade of contemplation as to how this problem can be fixed, the solution has been found. No longer will the Goethals Bridge exist. Instead, a new replacement bridge will stand either north or south of where the current bridge is located. The bridge has long been known for its use in conveniently transporting people from Staten Island to Newark Liberty International Airport, which is nearby. The bridge cannot be built in the same place it is currently located because the proposed height of the bridge would interfere with flight paths of the airplanes . The new bridge, as it will be quite different from the current, will not be known as the Goethals Bridge. In fact, in the beginning of 2011, borough president James P. Molinaro announced that the naming rights are to be sold to the highest bidder. Aside from the name, there will be a few more changes in this new bridge. As opposed to the four lanes the Goethals Bridge currently has, there will be six lanes on the new bridge. Two of these lanes, one in each direction, will be reserved for high-occupancy vehicles. In addition, the proposed bridge will have pedestrian and bicyclist paths.
The benefit of the projected HOV lanes is that many commuters utilize the bridge when taking an express bus from Staten Island to Manhattan. This is because the Goethals Bridge leads to the New Jersey Turnpike, which in turn helps commuters get to the Holland Tunnel, taking them into Manhattan. The buses that currently utilize the bridge are the x17C, x17J, x22, x23, x24, x30, and x31, which all travel into Midtown Manhattan. The exception is the x17A, which travels into Lower Manhattan and only operates during peak service times.