ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

- Drivers in Allentown can breathe a sigh of relief. It's been years in the making, but the new 15th Street bridge is now open to traffic.  

Officials cut the ribbon on the new bridge Friday, paving the way for some classic cars to be the first to cross, followed by the Allen High School band.

"I know it could be trying at times as this bridge has been closed," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski while speaking to the group that gathered on the bridge for the event.

It was a process getting to this point. The original bridge was built in 1957. Northbound traffic was cut off in 2010 because of deterioration. A 10-ton weight limit also went into effect that same year. The entire bridge was closed in August 2012 for an $8.4 million demolition and reconstruction project.

"Some of the delays were due to actual savings, we saved about four million dollars as a result of a new design," Pawlowski told 69 News.

The reopening was a long time coming for many drivers and neighbors. About 20,000 cars a day go over the bridge, according to the mayor.

"I posted on my Facebook page that we were doing this opening today and I've never seen so many hallelujah's in my life," Pawlowski said.

"Relieved, it's going to be wonderful to be able to get through directly," said Mary Crusius, who lives near the bridge.

When the bridge opened to traffic Friday afternoon, drivers honked their horns with excitement.

"It's so wonderful," said Marcella Odinyo of Allentown. "Oh my gosh, it takes so long to get to this side of town without the bridge, so it's like great."

"This is going to be our first experience going across the new bridge and it's going to be great," said Pete Noga. "This is wonderful, this is the best thing yet."

Workers still have some finishing touches to put on the bridge, which remains closed to pedestrians. The sidewalks will open in the spring.