NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge opened to traffic early this morning.
The completed bridge features five Queens-bound and four Brooklyn-bound lanes, plus a pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
What’s known as the “Under the K” park project also boasts seven acres of usable green space under the bridge.
Commuters didn’t waste any time taking advantage of the bridge or the pathway.
“We’re happy that the bridge is finally open, and it’s been a long time coming,” Long Island resident Peter Macejka told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
“Today, I changed my schedule. I’m using the bridge and see what happens,” said Queens resident Luis Martinez.
— Aundrea Cline-Thomas (@AClineThomas) August 29, 2019
Your quick video tour of the new Kosciuszko Bridge bike/foot path, 43rd Street in Queens to Van Dam & Meeker in Brooklyn pic.twitter.com/NrKybaTtaU
— Bike New York (@bikenewyork) August 28, 2019
The bridge used to be notorious for backups and traffic, but drivers are getting some relief – and much earlier than scheduled.
“It was a legendary choke point. Why? Because it was built 80 years ago, it was designed for 10,000 cars, and now it carries 200,000 cars,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“The old bridge wasn’t good at all. I mean, two, three hours of traffic. Not good,” said Queens resident Edward Artemus.
The name Kosciuszko is an honor to the Polish-American people and the Polish community, and it should be.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Polish immigrant, came to this country to fight the Revolutionary War. He reminds us all that it is immigrants that made this nation. pic.twitter.com/01w0znItSE
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 29, 2019
Celebrating the opening of the new Kosciuszko Bridge — on budget and four years early.
This beautiful new bridge is testament to what New York can do when optimism triumphs over cynicism.
Congrats to everyone who made this project a reality. pic.twitter.com/4GzKcI5NN6
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 28, 2019
On Wednesday, the governor gathered with local leaders and construction workers to cut the ribbon, signifying the completion of the four-year project.
“There will be less congestion, less smog, better accessibility to our waterfront and, most important, better and more open space and parks that will create a vibrant community for generations to come,” said Joseph Lentol, of Assembly District 50.
The first span opened in 2017. The second span was completed four years ahead of schedule and within the nearly $900 million budget.
“To be four years ahead of schedule for a bridge is unheard of in modern history,” Lentol added.
Lawmakers say it will cut travel times between the boroughs by 65%.
“We’re hoping that it eliminates probably about 10 to 15 minutes. Gov. Cuomo says it will eliminate 65%,” said Macejka. “I don’t know what kind of arithmetic they’re using at the state office, but let’s hope that he’s right.”
This is the first major bridge crossing built in the city since 1964.