In the opening days of its operation, Ohio Department of Transportation officials say they're "pleasantly surprised" with how smoothly the newly introduced "Trench" is operating.

In the opening days of its operation, Ohio Department of Transportation officials say they're "pleasantly surprised" with how smoothly the newly introduced "Trench" is operating.

The trench, positioned just north of Interstate 270 on U.S. Route 23, is part of ODOT's North Side Mega Fix, which will cost nearly $500 million and impact three sites on the north side of Columbus.

The trench officially opened to traffic at 4 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

ODOT spokeswoman Nancy Burton said the opening hours went "better than we had thought." At 5:30 p.m., in the midst of rush hour, she said ODOT staff looked at their traffic update site, ohgo.com, and were amazed to see northbound traffic with a green light.

"I don't think we've ever seen that," she said with a laugh. "It's been so long since someone can remember traffic moving at the posted speeds through there. So that was a first for us."

From monitoring traffic patterns and watching on camera, Burton said ODOT officials saw very little confusion among drivers entering the trench.

"We did not hear from anyone who said, 'I had no idea there was a trench; I didn't know what to do,' " she said. "We were able to do a lot of monitoring of the traffic on cameras, whether we were there or not, and it seemed fairly clear."

Burton said she has heard questions such as, "What about southbound?" or other references to other areas of the project. For those drivers, she and ODOT are asking for patience in the midst of a long project.

"The real relief for southbound will be in 2017 when that project is complete," she said. "It has to come in pieces. With a project with this size and the next project, we can't have all of it done at once."