NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw a party Thursday evening to celebrate the opening of the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Queens.
The first of two new spans opened to drivers Thursday.
It will carry traffic in both directions while the second span is built.
The first span will be converted to five lanes of Queens-bound traffic when the second span containing four lanes opens in 2020 for Brooklyn-bound traffic. The bridge will also feature a 20-foot-wide path for cyclists and pedestrians.
Cuomo hosted a party adjacent to the bridge at 7 p.m. The grand opening was marked with a light show at the new bridge and the Empire State Building. LED lights have been installed on the bridge and can be changed for special events.
"The new bridge - the first major New York City Bridge to open in more than 50 years - will bring much-needed relief to commuters and be a spectacular addition to the New York City skyline," Cuomo said. "It is a vibrant symbol of how the state is not just talking about moving vital infrastructure projects forward, but actually getting them done and restoring New York's tradition of excellence."
The new bridge is a welcome relief for the nearly 200,000 commuters who use the bridge every day.
"Every single day, whether it's morning or midday or afternoon or evening there's always traffic, always," one woman said.
Delays will be reduced by 65 percent once the second span is finished, Cuomo said.
Two sections of the outdated 78-year-old bridge will be imploded this summer.
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