CHICO, Calif. -

Minor traffic problems are expected as work began this week on the second phase of downtown Chico’s couplet project.

Monday crews began work along the Esplanade and Shasta Way from Memorial Way to 2nd Street. Shasta Way is the short portion of roadway connecting southbound Esplanade to downtown, beginning just after Bidwell Mansion and ending at Broadway.

Overall, the couplet project is expected to improve traffic flow downtown while creating a better environment for vehicle, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Last year, the project saw the installment of a roundabout where Camellia Way meets 1st, 2nd and Flume Streets. 1st and 2nd were also converted into one-way traffic and bike lanes were installed and painted green.

This new phase of the couplet project will create a new multi-use path, where bicycles and pedestrians will have separate areas to move without obstructing each other.

A new railing will be installed which Chico General Services Director Ruben Martinez says will improve safety.

"Bikes will be separated from the traffic, they'll actually be on top of the sidewalk in the multi-use path, similar to the section in front of the Presbyterian church," Martinez said.

Martinez says the stretch is known to get "crowded at certain times of the day."

Lane closures are planned along the Esplanade and Shasta Way with construction expected to be completed in the next 30 to 90 days.

Martinez suggests travelers avoid the area and use different routes downtown, particularly in the morning, at lunch, and during the evening rush, until the project is completed.