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First Span Of New Kosciuszko Bridge Open To Traffic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens is open to traffic.

When it comes to appearance and design, the new $555 million span seems to be getting good marks.

"Out of this world," Long Island resident Enrico Natale told CBS2's Janelle Burrell. "It's beautiful."

"It's nice, it's very smooth," said truck driver Marty Rausch. "A lot better than the other."

But when it comes to grading the traffic for the first ever morning commute on the new span, it depends on who you ask.

"Pretty bad," said Natale. "It's the first day so people are looking around, rubber necking looking around."

"Going from the west is a lot better than from the east," said Staten Island resident David Mora.

It's the first of two spans that will replace the old 78-year-old structure connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Maspeth, Queens over Newtown creek.

For now, traffic will go in both directions until the construction of the second span is complete, expected to be early 2020.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo marked the opening of the first span Thursday night with a dazzling LED light show synchronized to music.

"I spent my childhood going back and forth across the bridge with my family," Cuomo said. "The first time I heard my father use expletives was on this bridge."

Along with its reputation for constant traffic backups, the bridge is also well known for being a tongue-twister for even longtime New Yorkers. But the new structure is keeping the same name as the original.

"To commemorate the Polish-born revolutionary war hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko," said Polish Consulate General Maciej Golubiewski.

Bridge traffic officially began at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The governor took the first ride over the replacement bridge in Franklin Delano Roosevelt's 1932 Packard, marking the start of a new generation of infrastructure in New York.

"We are turning a new page," said New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. "This beautiful bridge is once again a bridge that Greenpoint residents can be proud of."

Sections of the old bridge are scheduled to be demolished this summer. State leaders say the new structure is built to last for the next 100 years.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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