Tell your boss that the orange barrels made you late for work, but you'll need a new excuse to get you through the next six months.

Drivers faced the first day of Crosstown construction traffic Thursday morning, reporting generally longer commutes. Accidents on Interstate 526 and S.C. Highway 61 only contributed to the problem but, overall, everyone kept moving.

Thursday marked the start of the next phase of construction along the Septima P. Clark Parkway -- also known as the Crosstown -- a project expected to run until late May that will install new safety barriers and drainage lines. To accomplish the much-needed improvements to the busy thoroughfare, city officials shut down two of the expressway's six lanes.

The worst traffic problems came from West Ashley, according to Charleston Public Services Director Laura Cabiness. A team consisting of her department, traffic and transportation officials, police, engineers and contractors met after rush-hour Thursday to debrief.

"The general consensus was it went better than we anticipated," Cabiness said.

The team plans to monitor traffic patterns for the next few days and, if certain backlogs persist, they will consider options to ease the burden on those roads. Those solutions could include tapering lanes and changing traffic signal operations.

Cabiness said police coordinated with tow truck companies to clear out accidents quickly. Despite two minor crashes in the morning, traffic never stopped.

More than 50,000 drivers use the artery through the city in their daily commutes. Following this phase of construction, the rest of the $154 million drainage project requires little impact on traffic, according to city officials.

Cars backed up coming into town, especially between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. City officials urged drivers to consider navigating around the Crosstown, especially during those peak hours.

"A lot of the alternate routes seemed under-utilized," Cabiness said. "It's not always the shortest route that's going to be the quickest route for people."

Drivers coming from Interstate 26 can exit at Rutledge Avenue, Morrison Drive or King or Meeting streets to avoid construction. Those coming from U.S. Highway 17 can try Lockwood, Calhoun, Cannon or Bee streets.

Drivers who use Sheppard Street to reach Rutledge Avenue should exit onto King Street. And people who normally use the Crosstown to travel across the county can use Sam Rittenberg Boulevard, the Northbridge and I-26 to the Ravenel Bridge.