Gone is the Goethals Bridge that's tested the patience of motorists traveling between Staten Island and New Jersey for close to a century.

In its place, a wider and sleeker crossing.

"This is a work of science, it's a work of art and it's a work of innovation," said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman Kevin O'Toole.

Port Authority officials hope the one and a half billion dollar project will give 32 million drivers a year a speedier and safer ride.

"This is going to increase the capacity dramatically, it's going to be good for the environment, it's going to decrease traffic stays by 15 to 20 minutes," O'Toole said.

The new Goethals Bridge actually is two separate spans. The first opened last June, allowing the old bridge to be demolished. 

The second span officially opens early Monday morning.

The new Goethals has three lanes each way, each of them two feet wider than on the old span. 

"The old bridge had two lanes in each direction but they were only 10 feet wide and they had no shoulder. So if there's an accident, it posed incredible problems for the police in how to clear it," said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton.

"Very narrow lanes meant for cars and trucks that were nowhere the size that they are today. Eighty-five years old and we've come a long way," said New Jersey Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.

The new Goethals has a gap between the east and westbound crossings that could be used to build a mass transit link between Staten Island and New Jersey. But the new bridge already can accommodate other types of commuters.

Unlike the old bridge, this one will have a path for cyclists and pedestrians. That path is set to open by the end of this summer.

"Bicycling has become very popular as a recreational activity but also a lot of folks like to commute to work by bicycles, so it will give them the opportunity," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

The bridge's towers top out at 272 feet - a height selected with airplanes in mind.

"Newark Airport is right there. So we actually had to design this in conjunction with the carriers and the FAA to come up with a height," said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Program Director James Blackmore.

It's a tall order for the Port Authority - which is completing its first bridge since finishing the George Washington close to 90 years ago.