FORT LEE - An $80 million rehab project will begin next week on the George Washington Bridge, prompting overnight lane closures.

Crews will be replacing the deck panels on the upper level of the 82-year-old span, just below the road's surface.

Officials say the work will cause delays, but is necessary. "Many aspects of the bridge's infrastructure are at the end of their useful life. So there really is no alternative," according to Cedrick Fulton of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Starting next week, work will be done from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights. On Fridays and Saturdays, crews will be out 12 a.m. to 8 a.m. During those times, officials say expect delays between 45 minutes and one hour.

During construction, the Port Authority will close 3 lanes in one direction, leaving one lane open.

The rehab project is part of a two-year effort to fortify the bridge. The deck panels have not been replaced since 1977.

The lower level of the bridge will be open throughout the project. Toll collectors will be added for drivers without E-ZPass.

The Port Authority urges drivers to check its website for current information on closures.