PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A small step for PennDOT could be a giant relief for commuters in the South Hills.

Inbound drivers can now turn left in two lanes legally when they take the Liberty tubes detour.

“We believe that is going to alleviate the considerable amount of the congestion approaching the tunnel,” PennDOT’s Dan Cessna says.

When the inbound lanes of the Liberty tubes were closed, inbound traffic could only use one lane to turn left on Route 51. That created a bottleneck which slowed down traffic and caused a major backup on West Liberty Avenue.

Businesses like West Liberty Beer and Tobacco felt the effect.

“It was pretty treacherous all day,” owner Anthony Mastromatteo says. “The traffic was backed up and it was hard for people to get in and out of the traffic so from a business aspect it really affected our business.”

Creating two left turn lanes is just one of the changes PennDOT is making to improve traffic flow.

“We’re also going to make some changes to the traffic signals to allow more time for the left turn and we believe the all those changes will shorten the backup considerably,” Cessna says.

While construction continues on the Liberty tubes, inbound drivers still have to take the detours along Route 51 to the parkway through the Fort Pitt tunnels or stay on Route 51 to the West End Bridge.

PennDOT will be monitoring traffic on Monday.

The real break won’t come until August 30th when the inbound lanes of the Liberty tubes are reopened.

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