VALLEY VIEW, Ohio (WJW) – The Monday morning commute is going to look a little different for Northeast Ohioans traveling west on Interstate 480.

The Valley View Bridge westbound express lanes are open, allowing drivers to bypass a congested stretch of highway.

“This bridge sees 180,000 vehicles a day and so it’s the busiest bridge in the state,” Ohio Department of Transportation District 12 Public Information Officer Brent Kovacs said. “We hope this bridge will alleviate rush hour congestion.”

The change is relatively simple to understand for drivers. If you want to avoid I-77 interchange traffic, all you must do is keep to the left over the Valley View Bridge.

Here is a bird’s-eye view of what to expect, courtesy of SkyFOX:

“We did the research on it and found that if there is a one lane closed during rush hour it would be an eight-mile backup every a.m. and p.m. commute,” Kovacs said. “So, we had to take a creative approach to this project and that was to create a new bridge in the middle.”

The total cost of the project is $227.7 million which also includes bridge deck replacements. The express lanes create six lanes for traffic on both sides of the interstate.

WJW photo

Garfield Heights police say the traffic pattern could be confusing for drivers initially, so it’s best to be aware, slow down and limit distractions.

“Watch the signs, put the phones down and just drive carefully,” Garfield Heights Police Department Patrolman Brittany Crespo said.

Crespo said the new lanes are going to be a big help for general traffic relief.

“We’re hoping this alleviates a lot of our issues during rush hour and that gridlock,” Crespo said. “With that express lane, you know, if you’re traveling before Transportation you don’t have to worry about getting over and switching lanes if you’re continuing onto 480 West.”

But she advises drivers not treat the express lanes as a raceway.

“It’s not a very long distance, pretty much exactly the length of the bridge,” she said. “So, you’re not going to get in the car and go do 100 miles down the highway. We’re just asking everyone to slow down, more importantly slow down and watch your surroundings.”

Construction will continue on the bridge until next summer, but the eastbound express lanes will open in about a month. ODOT plans to hold a press conference on the project in a few weeks.