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Big Squeeze, Day 1: Traffic flowing more smoothly than anticipated

Commuters navigate through the “Big Squeeze” on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, in downtown Las Vegas. (KSNV)

On Day 1 of the “Big Squeeze,” the morning's rush hour went more smoothly than anticipated, but officials say they did notice much more traffic on side streets being used as alternate routes.

"It's going to take a couple days until valley motorists get used to it," said Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia.

Illia said drivers should still give themselves a little extra time to get to their destinations if they're using U.S. 95 to get there.

RELATED | 'The Big Squeeze' will tighten traffic on U.S. 95 starting tonight

"Just be conscious and be aware you are traveling through an active construction zone," Illia said.

During peak hours, U.S. 95 typically sees about 10,000 motorists an hour. As of today, the freeway has been restricted to two lanes in each direction, forcing many drivers like Kai Soto on to surface streets. He's already noticed the added traffic on Rancho Drive.

"Even just right here … trying to get on the freeway because we go to the gym. It's getting packed taking a little longer to get where we want to go," Soto said.

Illia tells News 3 NDOT is monitoring those roads and adjusting accordingly to make driving as smooth as possible.

RELATED | Keys to survive Big Squeeze Project: Patience and alternate routes

"We're working with FAST (RTC’s Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation), so we're able to monitor the traffic flows on some of those alternative side streets. We can adjust the signal timing if need be to improve traffic flows on whichever routes seems heaviest," Illia said.

"We're just going to have to live through this nightmare," said motorist Kimberly Bolton.

Bolton said side streets like Valley View and Decatur are already packed; she's still having trouble believing U.S. 95 will be restricted for nearly a year.

RELATED | U.S. 95's 'Big Squeeze' expected to cause significant traffic delays

"For 10 months, to condense this down to two lanes, is going to be horrendous for everyone," she said.

The change is to allow for the expansion of the freeway and the addition of a new onramp from the U.S. 95's HOV lane.

Illia said so far, traffic has been heavier than usual but not as bad as they thought. He's hoping things get better as drivers adjust to the changes.

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