BLOOMFILED — The first section of the new Goethals Bridge opened to drivers over the weekend, with the original 89-year-old span closing permanently.
The Port Authority shuttered the original Goethals Bridge on Friday night then opened up the first of two spans for the new one in stages over the weekend, according to the agency.
Workers spent part of the weekend reconfiguring the approach lanes to the new bridge and then opened up the New York-bound side on Saturday afternoon and the New Jersey-bound lanes late Sunday afternoon, the Port Authority said.
The first span of the bridge will host both New York and New Jersey-bound traffic and won't have the planned pedestrian walkway, a spokesman for the Port Authority said.
The second span will open in 2018, with traffic being split to each side and the walkway debut, the spokesman said.
The new bridge, built next to the current one, is part of a $2.6 billion project started in 2013 by the Port Authority to improve all crossings that connect Staten Island to New Jersey.
The project also raises the Bayonne Bridge's roadway and will resurface the Outerbridge Crossing.
For the Goethals Bridge, the agency decided to completely replace the existing one for a new one with wider roadways, a walkway for pedestrians and bicycles and a design that allows for mass transit options in the future.
When complete, the new bridge will have six, 12-foot-wide lanes split into two spans, compared to the four 10-foot-wide ones on the old bridge.
The agency also modified the design of the bridge in 2014 to add a 9-foot fence to prevent suicides after urging by Councilman Steven Matteo.
The agency will start work demolishing the old bridge in stages after the opening of the new span and the entire project is expected to finish in 2019.