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A Seattle Police officer helps direct traffic at the intersection of Mercer Street and Westlake Avenue on Monday. Negotiating the newly opened, two-way street was a bit of a challenge for some commuters today. (Photo by John Lok / The Seattle Times)

UPDATE: 9:40 a.m. | This morning’s commute on the new two-way Mercer Street was a mess.

Rick Sheridan, spokesman for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), said that the posted signs and months of notifications didn’t make a difference to many drivers. The city has changed Mercer into two-way boulevard, altering a traffic pattern that dates to 1968.

“We’re seeing some driver confusion, especially in the westbound direction,” Sheridan said. “They are not understanding that Mercer is two-way.”

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The good news is that there weren’t any collisions this morning, Sheridan said.

Driver confusion took its toll on Interstate 5 southbound this morning, too. Motorists dealt with long backups at the Mercer Street exit, according to the Washington Department of Transportation.

Sheridan said that many motorists seem confused that they can’t turn left onto Fairview Avenue North. The city has uniformed police officers in the area during peak traffic times helping instruct motorists and will continue to do so for several weeks.  SDOT will be adding additional message boards to notify drivers of the traffic pattern change, Sheridan said.

Fairview Avenue North has been reduced to just one northbound lane for several weeks, from Harrison Street to Mercer Street, for construction.

Mercer actually opened to traffic last night, hours ahead of schedule. SDOT said Sunday afternoon that it had completed pavement, striping and signal work more quickly than expected, permitting the early opening.

Drivers leaving Interstate 5 can continue straight toward Seattle Center, instead of turning right and snaking along Valley Street, and pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to take advantage of wide sidewalks to reach the growing Amazon and UW Medicine campuses. See this map and more detailed coverage.

Motorists should expect afternoon delays, while pedestrians should beware of busier car traffic on side streets that connect with Mercer. Transit buses 70, 71, 72 and 73 will move off Fairview to Eastlake Avenue East.