Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Drivers heading to and from Downtown Pittsburgh Monday will provide the first big test for major traffic changes on the Parkway North.

The next phase in a major improvement project is underway, and it will not be easy for drivers.

All northbound drivers are now being diverted to the HOV lanes just south of the McKnight Road/Evergreen Road (Exit 4) interchange.

Credit: PennDOT

Northbound drivers will face a key decision as they approach the Perrysville Avenue interchange. Traffic will split into two lanes. Staying right puts drivers in a “local lane,” with access to the Perrysville Avenue, Bellevue/West View, and Camp Horne Road exits. Staying left, puts drivers in an “express lane,” which bypasses all three exits.

“I think people have to make a decision and that’s tough sometimes. For me, it’s express lane every night,” Gary Barnett said.

Credit: PennDOT

Also, PennDOT says the current Perrysville Avenue off-ramp will not be accessible from the HOV lanes.

“I was driving out here and I saw a sign that said the ramp to the Parkway North was closed. My thought was what the heck is going on?” Lori Jockel said.

The majority of the changes coming with this new phase of the project affect drivers traveling away from Downtown Pittsburgh, but PennDOT expected Monday’s morning rush to be slow. PennDOT said all three lanes (two southbound, one northbound) on the southbound side of the Parkway North will be narrowed to 11 feet.

“Even though it’s heading out of the city we do expect, because it’s a new configuration, that motorists are going to take their time through there,” PennDOT District 11 spokesman Steve Cowan said. “There are a lot of decision points.”

This phase of the project is expected to finish up in late August. Other work in the area, however, will continue until the middle of next year.