NEW YORK -- The second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge is set to open Thursday, four years ahead of schedule and on budget.
Before its opening, Cuomo says the public will get a chance to bike or walk over the new bridge until 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
"The original six-lane bridge was a source of notorious traffic bottlenecks. On the new Kosciuszko Bridge, there are nine wider lanes, a pedestrian and bike path and shoulders - all of which will help reduce traffic by 65 percent and save time for commuters and improve the environment," Governor Cuomo said. "Today isn't just about a new bridge that is smart, functional, on-budget and done early - it's also about what this bridge symbolizes. At a time when we have so much negativity, frustration and anger in this country, this bridge is an example of what government and society can do when you focus on the positive. This is New York State at its best: we built this and we made this happen."
The completed bridge features five Queens-bound traffic lanes and four Brooklyn-bound lanes as well as a 20-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle pathway. It's expected to handle 200,000 drivers per day.
"My son is a biker, so for him to go to Brooklyn now without messing with local traffic, I think it's a great idea," pedestrian Richard O'Connor said.
It's a biker's paradise for bicyclists like Ted Chu, who was one of the first to cross the bridge when it opened at noon, along with a number of pedestrians.
"At least there is enough room for the bicyclists to go their way and not hit the pedestrians," pedestrian Michelle Hillburger said.
The $873 million project is the first major bridge built in New York City since the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in 1964. The original Kosciuszko Bridge opened in 1939.
Those interested are able to access the 20-foot wide pathway from Laurel Hill Boulevard and 54th Road in Queens and from Meeker Avenue and Van Dam Street in Brooklyn. There will be a light show on Wednesday at 8 p.m. and the span will be open to traffic at 5 a.m. Thursday.
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Second span of Kosciuszko Bridge opens to bikes, pedestrians