The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and NYNJ Link Partnership on Friday reached a financial closing on a $1.5 billion public-private partnership to replace the Goethals Bridge with a cable stayed design bridge.

The bridge connects New York City's Staten Island borough with Elizabeth, N.J. The project is the Port Authority's first new bridge in more than 80 years and officials call it the "first true" surface transportation public-private partnership in the Northeast U.S.

Port Authority's last new bridge was the George Washington Bridge, which opened in 1931.

According to a Port Authority statement, the financial close is the last major milestone on the project prior to construction, which will begin later this year. The Port Authority board of commissioners awarded a 40-year design-build-finance-maintain contract to NYNJ Link Partnership earlier this year as part of the PPP to replace the 85-year-old Goethals Bridge.

NYNJ Link Partnership consists of Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc. and Kiewit Development, together with lead contractors Kiewit Infrastructure, Weeks Marine, and Massman Construction.

The authority expects that the P3 will reduce construction and maintenance costs for the Goethals project and limit the impact to the authority's debt capacity.

The project is expected to benefit from a low-cost loan of as much as $500 million under the U.S. Department of Transportation Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and the sale of private activity bonds.

The private contractor plans to issue about $450 million in private activity bonds, according to the Port Authority.

"Reaching financial close is another significant milepost on our journey to completing the region's first true surface transportation public-private partnership in the northeast region," said Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye.

The new bridge will include additional wider travel lanes and 12-foot shoulders that officials say will ease congestion and accommodate anticipated future traffic volumes. It also will provide "smart bridge" technology, including a traffic detection system that use sensors embedded in the roadway to provide alerts on traffic build-up to enable rapid implementation of response plans.

The new structure also will restore pedestrian access to the Goethals Bridge with a pedestrian-bicycle pathway — a safe, scenic passageway for recreational enjoyment. The replacement Goethals Bridge is subject to Buy America provisions, for use of domestic materials wherever possible.

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