By John Shumway

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When you’ve got a road that carries 100,000 drivers a day packed into three lanes in each direction and you add in a heavy dose of construction…

“I think it’s going to be problematic,” PennDOT District 11 Spokesman Steve Cowan said.

Well, get ready. The month-long reprieve for drivers thanks to the weather is over. Orange is going to blossom all over your Parkway North ride and detours are in your future. It is game on for the largest road construction project of 2018.

“The contractor would like to have the new configuration in place by about 7 o’clock Saturday night,” Cowan said.

The new configuration means pushing all the northbound traffic into the HOV lane at the McKnight Road exit. The barrier has been removed but there are plenty of lines to paint and some additional safety barriers to install.

To get that work done, the contractor needs some elbow room.

“We’re going to see northbound 279 narrowed to a single lane,” Cowan said.

That single lane will start on the Northshore Expressway and, after the Penguins game, extend all the way up to McKnight Road and be in place until the crossover is ready early Saturday morning.

That’s when “motorists are going to be shifted into the HOV lane until late August,” Cowan says.

Afternoon rush hours are expected to be “problematic.”

“I think we’re going to see a lot of congestion for the first few days perhaps the first week or two,” Cowan said.

A note to Penguins fans attending the game on Friday night — the HOV lane will not be open for a quick escape to the North Hills after the game. And while the one-lane restriction at the north end of the Veterans Bridge will hold off until after the game, restrictions will be in place from Hazlett Street on north.

So Cowan suggests considering an alternative ride home or stick around downtown after the game and give traffic a chance to clear out.

Rush hour traffic on Monday afternoon will be the first test of how drivers will handle the beginning of the second year of Parkway North reconstruction.