WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - At the front of a long line of cars eagerly waiting to drive across the brand new Amidon bridge Wednesday, crews removed the barricades, and Ryan Winder became the first person to cross it.

"It's really exciting. The bridge was in dire need of replacement or repair. And so it's a pleasure to see it done and really exciting to be the first to drive across the bridge. Really proud to be a part of it," Winder said.

The City says the bridge was so old and deteriorated that it just wasn't safe to drive on anymore.

After a long year of residents like Paul Williams forced to take long detours, the bridge is open ahead of schedule.

Oh, it's great. Saves a few miles coming and going. Don't have to go through the neighborhoods no more," Williams said.

But the City says it's not quite over yet.

"The bridge will open today to all lanes of traffic, but intermittent lane closure will be necessary through the end of the year to complete enhancements like the aesthetics lighting."

Winder says while it was a pain at times, feeling the smooth new concrete under the wheels and seeing so many smiling faces made it all worth it.

"I think it was a great thing to do. And it's not a problem to wait. So it's really exciting to have it done," Winder said.

The City says the free bus routes along the detour will end on Saturday, and the temporary fire station at 13th and West will close in January.