PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A huge construction project kicked off Monday on the Liberty Bridge.

PennDOT said closing the Liberty Tunnel and two lanes of the bridge this weekend allowed things to go smoothly Monday morning.

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This is the first phase of the project and it started promptly at 5 a.m. PennDOT is replacing the deck on the Liberty Bridge and they’ll be doing it one lane at a time.

For commuters, there will be some growing pains as everyone gets used to the changes.

Most people knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it easier on them.

PennDOT started with the far right lane headed inbound. That lane and the ramp to the Boulevard of the Allies were then shut down.

Crews will do the work in four phases and for each of them, the traffic patterns will change three times Monday through Friday to allow the best possible traffic flow during the morning and afternoon rush.

They will reportedly make tweaks to try and optimize the situation throughout.

The biggest hit on Day One was the Parkway West where quite a few drivers decided to detour and avoid the Liberty Tunnel and Bridge altogether, something PennDOT hoped would happen.

Cathi McMillen woke up an hour early Monday morning in anticipation of the changes.

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“Hopefully, it’s not going to take that long coming home, but I think coming home will actually be worse than coming down off the mountain in the morning,” she said.

Those who typically walk, run or bike over the bridge said they’ve got the worst deal out of everyone.

“When you’re coming down the hill, there’s no sign telling you that when you get down here, there’s no alternative and that is no alternative, there’s no lights, there’s a muddy path going down over the side,” Donald Stevens said.

That detour is pretty direct, but the one for the closed ramp is a little trickier.

The following detour is in effect:

• Continue inbound (northbound) on the Liberty Bridge past the closed ramp.
• Continue onto the Crosstown Boulevard toward 6th Avenue/Forbes Avenue exit.
• Exit Crosstown Boulevard to 6th Avenue.
• Follow 6th Avenue to Grant Street.
• Turn right onto Grant Street.
• Turn right onto 7th Avenue.
• Exit 7th Avenue to I-579 South/I-376 East toward Monroeville/Liberty Bridge.
• Keep right and take ramp to I-376 East toward Oakland/Monroeville
• Follow ramp onto Boulevard of the Allies
• End detour

“It’s not a big deal to me, I have a flexible schedule. I can be late or early, but I’d imagine for everyone else – especially if you’re not familiar – it can be a drag,” Ron Slover said.

The $80 million project has been in the planning stages for years. Now that it’s begun, it’s slated to wrap up in 2018.

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