SALISBURY, N.C. -- The new I-85 Yadkin River Veterans Memorial South bridge will be open to traffic for the first time on Friday.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation secretary made the announcement on Thursday.

The four-land bridge will provide motorists a safer, more efficient way to travel between Charlotte and the Triad.

Traffic will be diverted onto the new I-85 South bridge around 10 p.m. Friday night. Officials say all four lanes of the bridge will be open by the early morning hours on Saturday.

We re proud to bring the citizens of this region what they ve wanted for many years a modern bridge that can easily accommodate the 60,000 vehicles that travel through the area each day, said Secretary Tata. By improving critical interstate commerce routes like I-85, we can better meet Gov. Pat McCrory s vision to leverage our transportation assets to stimulate economic growth and create and maintain jobs.

The new I-85 South bridge is twice as wide as the one it replaces, and features 12-foot-wide shoulders, allowing motorists room to pull over for emergencies.

Authorities say the new features will reduce congestion, improve safety and extend the life of the local transportation network.

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