"Drivers will experience a smoother ride from one end of Chico to the other," says Caltrans Resident Engineer, Ben Hargrove.
Construction began this week on a project to widen Highway 99 in Chico between East First Avenue and Highway 32..
Chico CHP Officer Justin Maxey says, "It's going to supply the volume, the roadway width and size, that is needed to accommodate the volume of traffic that enters and exits at those ramps." That's roughly 70,000 drivers a day, according to Caltrans officials..
And CHP officers say it's the short length of the current acceleration lanes, that cause a lot of collisions. Officer Maxey says, "Some people get to the top of the ramp and they get nervous, scared, think they're not going to make it.. So they apply their breaks.."
Which he says can be the most dangerous part of merging onto the highway.. So what this new auxiliary lane is going to do.. Is it's going to open an extra lane for traffic merging onto the freeway. Making it safer for drivers and reducing traffic congestion.
This $24-million project, will not only add a mile-long lane on Highway 99, widen on and off-ramps, but it will also add sound walls to reduce highway noise, and widen the bridges that run on Highway 99 over Bidwell Park and Palmetto Avenue..
During construction Caltrans will set up a concrete barrier to protect workers on site. "We find that when people aren't distracted by the work they tend to pay more attention to the road ahead of them," says Hargrove.
Most of the construction will be done between 9p.m. and 6a.m., to avoid as much inconvenience for travelers, and keep road workers as safe as possible. "Slow down! That's the biggest thing that we can do to prevent any type of collision," Officer Maxey says.
The entire project is expected to be completed by Spring 2014.