The northern Malaysian state of Penang officially opened the longest bridge in Southeast Asia to traffic on March 1.

Addressing the opening ceremony, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak described the bridge, which is named after Malaysian King Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, as a proud symbol for his country and people.

Spanning 24km in length, the new bridge connects Batu Kawan town in the mainland and the island town of Batu Maung.

It is expected to help ease traffic on an older existing bridge by 25 percent and promote the economic growth of Penang.

The bridge was built with a total budget of 4.5 billion RM (almost 1.5 billion USD). It includes two lanes for automobiles and one for motorbikes, with a capacity of 100,000 vehicles per day.

The first Penang bridge, which is 8km away from the new one, was opened in 1985. It is 13.5 km long and can serve 155,000 vehicles per day.-VNA