What to Know
- The first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is set to open this week
- Cuomo announced last month that parts of the old span will be blown up to speed up the demolition
- An estimated 185,000 vehicles cross the rusting 78-year-old bridge every day. Cuomo says it was built for 10,000
The first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is now open, making it the first major bridge built in New York City in 53 years.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo drove the ceremonial first car, a 1932 Packard belonging to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, over the bridge, which connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to Maspeth, Queens.
"To me it represents what New York is all about," Cuomo said.
The bridge opening was celebrated with a dazzling light show to music Thursday night. The bridge glowed every color of the rainbow as a heavy fog rolled by during the celebration.
The bridge opened to traffic at 10:30 p.m.
The show was the first performance of "The New York Harbor of Lights." Eventually, seven other MTA-operated bridges will have LED lights that change color and synchronize to music.
An estimated 185,000 vehicles cross the rusting 78-year-old bridge every day. Cuomo says it was built for 10,000.
"I'm a native Queens boy, born and raised. My mother was a Brooklyn girl, born and raised," said Cuomo. "And so I spent my childhood going back and forth across the bridge with our family. The first time I heard my father use expletives was on this bridge."
Cuomo said he drove the Packard to invoke FDR's spirit.
"He believed in New York, he believed in New Yorkers, he believed in the New York spirit and he believed that there was nothing we couldn't do," he said.
To thousands of commuters like Lorraine Salinas, there's only one thing about the new bridge they care about: will it end their traffic nightmare?
"I hope so," Salinas, of Maspeth, said. "Without potholes, it should be good, because the old one is terrible."
For decades, drivers have had to endure miserable traffic tie-ups on the old bridge. All traffic will then be diverted to the new span, and when the bridge is completed in 2020, there will be two spans, one going in each direction.
Getting the bridge built wasn't easy. It took years of construction and a $500 million price tag. But Cuomo promises it will ultimately reduce traffic.
The governor announced last month that parts of the old span will be blown up to speed up the demolition. The news didn't sit well with some residents.
The light show will also be installed on seven other MTA-owned bridges and tunnels by May 2018 to boost tourism, Cuomo said.
Those bridges and tunnels include: the Henry Hudson Bridge, Whitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, RFK Triborough Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.