The bridge was named for Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, the first chairman of the then-Port of New York Authority and a resident of Staten Island. Rather than call it the "Outerbridge Bridge", the span was labeled a "crossing", but many New Yorkers and others mistakenly assume the name comes from the fact that it is the most remote bridge in New York City and the southernmost crossing in New York state.
The bridge is of a steel cantilever construction, designed by John Alexander Low Waddell and built under the auspices of the Port of New York Authority, now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which currently operates it. It opened simultaneously with the Goethals Bridge on June 29, 1928. Both spans have similar designs. Neither bridge saw high traffic counts until the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. Traffic counts on both bridges were also depressed due to the effects of the Great Depression and World War II.
In recent years, the bridge has undergone numerous repair jobs as a result of the high volume of traffic that crosses the bridge each day. On October 11, 2013, the Port Authority announced the completion of the bridge's repavement project.
The Outerbridge Crossing carried 32,438,000 vehicles (both directions) in 2006, or approximately 90,000 each day. Tolls are collected in the eastbound direction only.
In 2003, the Port Authority raised the speed limit for the three inner E-ZPass lanes at the toll plaza from 15 to 25 miles per hour (25 to 40 km/h), separating these lanes from the rest of the eight-lane toll plaza by a barrier. Two years later, the tollbooths adjacent to the 25 mph E-ZPass lanes were removed and overhead gantries were installed with electronic tag readers to permit E-ZPass vehicles to travel at 45 miles per hour (70 km/h) in special high-speed lanes. Motorists using the high-speed E-ZPass lanes cannot use Exit 1 to Page Avenue, which is located immediately after the toll plaza.
As of December 7, 2014, the cash tolls going from New Jersey to New York are $14 for cars and motorcycles; there is no toll for passenger vehicles going from New York to New Jersey. E-ZPass users are charged $9.75 for cars and $8.75 for motorcycles during off-peak hours (outside of 6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and outside of 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends) and $11.75 for cars and $10.75 for motorcycles during peak hours (6–10 a.m. and 4–8 p.m. on the weekdays; and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on the weekends).