Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The first vehicles, motorcycles and a Vespa, rolled eastbound toward downtown Dallas at around 1 o'clock Thursday afternoon. The bridge will open in stages.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is officially open to traffic, extending Woodall Rodgers Freeway to West Dallas across the Trinity River.
About 100 drivers lined up on the west side for the first drive over the new bridge as workers removed the barricades at about 1 p.m. Thursday.
Tom Weber was at the head of the line, riding a Vespa scooter.
"I work downtown," he said. "I wanted to ride the bridge into downtown. I kind of went out of my way, unfortunately."
A group of motorcycle riders from West Dallas were right behind him.
"We have a lot of bridges that cross the Trinity River, but we don't have one that looks like this. It's definitely going to be a landmark," rider Greg Madrid said.
The Texas Department of Transportation opened the bridge and connecting ramps in stages through the afternoon.
"We can get traffic moving, and we can see if there's any issues of people not understanding what they need to do, and we can fix those before we move on to the next step," said Duane Milligan, TxDOT project manager.
Road crews opened all the bridge connections they intended to do on Thursday and Friday in just one day.
Construction is still under way on Riverfront Boulevard, and connections to the bridge and Woodall Rodgers Freeway at Riverfront will not be finished for several weeks. Some additional work is also still under way on a ramp connecting to northbound Stemmons Freeway.
Right now, the speed limit on the main span across the river is just 35 mph because there is a traffic signal on the west side at the connection with Beckley Avenue and Singleton Boulevard.
"We will come back in a few weeks once the traffic pattern is normalized, and we'll do a full speed study and determine what the permanent speed limits will be," Milligan said.
Developers have plans for a restaurant attraction, apartments and shops on formerly industrial land at the West Dallas base of the bridge.
Some neighbors have concerns about how the development could change their nearby residential community, but the developers have promised to work with the existing residents.
The West Dallas motorcyclists had no complaints.
"And we just think anything that brings business over this way is going to be great for the neighborhood, great for Dallas, and just in general, overall good," rider Rudolph Colorado said.