The US has officially opened the $229.5m Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge on I-70 – the largest of 37 projects comprising the $700m New Mississippi River Bridge project.

The new bridge connects St. Clair County, Illinois, and St. Louis, Missouri. Construction on the project began in 2010.

About 80% of the total construction costs for the project were from federal funds.

"The project put people to work and helped strengthen small businesses on both sides of the Mississippi."

US Transportation Secretary Foxx said: "This is more than a bridge, it is a road to opportunity for the thousands of people in Illinois and Missouri who have long deserved a faster and safer way to get to work and home again."

Designed to last for more than a century, the 2,770ft-long bridge is held in place by over 3.4 million-ft of stay-cable strand secured to two 405ft-tall towers, and is expected to accommodate about 40,000 daily drivers and 55,000 per day by 2030.

To support the bridge, footings including six drilled-pier shafts are embedded into bedrock under the river, and more than 45,000 cubic yards of concrete was placed during the bridge’s construction.

In addition, about 10,000t of structural steel and 8,600t of reinforcing steel were used in the footings and towers.

The new bridge will be the third-longest cable-stayed bridge in the US and among the top 50 across the world, and will ease congestion by redirecting I-70 traffic, leaving the Poplar Street Bridge to carry I-55 and I-64 traffic more safely and efficiently.

US Federal Highway deputy administrator Greg Nadeau said: "The project put people to work, eliminated a chokepoint along one of the nation’s most important economic corridors, and helped strengthen small businesses on both sides of the Mississippi."