Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a tour of the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge, which will open to the public Thursday. Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware

Long Islanders are expected to hit the road in big numbers during the final major getaway weekend of the summer — and will have a new bridge to help them get to their destinations.

Five years after construction began, and four years ahead of its original schedule, the newly built Kosciuszko Bridge, linking Queens and Brooklyn, will be fully open to vehicles Thursday morning — in time for the Labor Day weekend.

The new $873 million bridge replaces the previous 80-year-old span, and includes nine lanes of traffic — three more than the original structure — road shoulders, and a 20-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian path. The bridge’s incline also was lowered to make it easier for large vehicles to maintain consistent speeds and to reduce traffic congestion, state officials said.

“It was a legendary chokepoint, a legendary bottleneck . . . It was narrow. It was dangerous . . . And this went on for 80 years,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a Wednesday morning event unveiling the bridge. “This new bridge will reduce traffic by 65 percent. Just think about what that means in terms of time, in terms of preserving the environment.”

Despite that, AAA is still warning drivers to expect “serious delays getting out of town” with heavy traffic on local bridges and tunnels.

“No matter how good the bridges get, we’re still getting to and from them on the same roads as before, which are crowded and over capacity,” said AAA Northeast spokesman Robert Sinclair Jr., who doesn’t expect the potential traffic to deter some travelers. “Americans get very few vacation days compared to the rest of the world. We are worker bees. So when we get a free day, we take a trip. We make the most of it.”

AAA Northeast said 85 percent of its members plan to travel this weekend, with about three-quarters staying within the Northeast. The boost in travel is spurred, in part, by the cheapest gasoline prices in three years. The national average for a gallon of gas is $2.58 — two cents less than a week ago, 16 cents less than a month ago, and 25 cents less than a year ago, according to AAA.

The low gas prices are expected to put pressure on the region’s already-stressed transportation network. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority reported that an additional 1 million vehicles per month crossed its bridges this year. The MTA is suspending lane closures related to routine maintenance work and temporary construction beginning at 1 p.m. Friday and lasting through the end of the Tuesday morning rush.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it will help transport an estimated 6 million people this weekend by car, rail and air. The agency expects more than 1.9 million travelers to use its area airports — a 1.8 percent increase over last year’s Labor Day weekend. That includes more than 900,000 passengers using John F. Kennedy International Airport and 378,000 traveling in and out of LaGuardia Airport.

The Long Island Rail Road is looking to help customers in the first leg of their weekend travel plans by adding eight Friday afternoon trains out of Penn Station from 2 to 4 p.m. More information is available at mta.info and on the MyMTA mobile app.

Labor Day will mark the unofficial end of a busy summer for the railroad, which increased ridership over last summer, despite suspending service on multiple weekends to carry out construction work — including the installation of four rail bridges in Nassau County.

Helping boost recreational rail travel, officials said, was the second year of the LIRR’s “Summer Saturdays” program, which allows monthly ticket-holders to travel anywhere in the system at no extra charge, and bring up to four guests paying $1 each way.

Through the first half of the year, the LIRR carried more than a million additional riders as compared to the same period in 2018 — a year in which the railroad set a modern ridership record of almost 90 million passengers. In June and July, the railroad saw ridership increase by 0.3 percent as compared to the same period in 2018, despite the railroad carrying huge amounts of riders to the U.S. Open golf tournament in Shinnecock Hills in June of last year.

“Historic ridership figures, which continue to grow, underscore the importance and need for the MTA’s transformative work to expand and modernize the LIRR," LIRR president Phillip Eng said Wednesday.

The LIRR will operate on a weekend/holiday schedule Monday.

And when commuters return to work Tuesday, they may find a slightly less-chaotic Penn Station. Amtrak said it is on schedule to wrap up by Monday the latest phase of its infrastructure renewal project at the Manhattan transit hub. 

The work, which began in June, entailed the replacement of several components in the station's complex "J.O. Interlocking," which is just east of Penn's platforms and used routinely by LIRR trains. Amtrak officials have said the upgrades will improve ride quality and reliability for train passengers.

East Hampton battery storage … June inflation on LI … FeedMe: Ice cream and gelato Credit: Newsday

NUMC nurse attack ... Harry Chapin food drive ... LGBTQ health care on LI ... FeedMe: Ice cream and gelato

East Hampton battery storage … June inflation on LI … FeedMe: Ice cream and gelato Credit: Newsday

NUMC nurse attack ... Harry Chapin food drive ... LGBTQ health care on LI ... FeedMe: Ice cream and gelato

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