New span at Kosciuszko Bridge to open to drivers this week

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Lauren Glassberg has the story

The first span of a project to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge is opening to New York City drivers this week, with the first traffic expected to cross Thursday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo got a new perspective on the brand new bridge Monday from Newtown Creek, which flows under the bridge between Brooklyn and Queens.

"We haven't built a bridge since the Verrazano," Cuomo said. "That makes the point we have been putting band-aids on problems for too long."

The first phase of the bridge cost $555 million and will temporarily allow for three lanes of traffic in each direction. Ultimately, the span is expected to accommodate 180,000 cars per day.

By comparison, the original bridge, opened in 1939, was built for only 10,000.

The second phase of the bridge will be ready in 2020, but the old bridge has to be imploded first. Some sections are scheduled to be demolished this summer.

The new span will eventually offer a bike and pedestrian lane, as well as shoulders for emergencies, and will also be more viable for trucks as the incline won't be as steep.

The pronunciation of the name is still a sticking point, and when it's dedicated Thursday, Cuomo said he will go with the "koo-shoe-sko." For the ceremony, it will also be lit up to sync with the Empire State Building.

It is striking as the first cable-stayed bridge in New York, as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

Initially, traffic will go in both directions until the construction of the second span is complete.

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