CHICO, Ca -

The northbound on-ramp onto Highway 99 from Highway 32 in Chico has changed, as work is complete on an extra auxiliary lane, which makes merging into traffic safer and easier.

"People would typically get to the ramp ... and just panic to merge back on the freeway," said Kurt Powell, a California Highway Patrol officer in Chico. "We were taking a lot crashes."

Powell added there were similar accidents at the on-ramp heading southbound on East First Avenue, which also has an added lane to better merge into traffic.

The speed limit on the stretch of Hwy 99 between East 20th Street and East First Avenue is now back up to 60 mph after it had been 50 mph while the 3-year-construction project was underway. 

"Part of the problem is navigating traffic while you're building infrastructure," replied Malcom Dougherty of Cal Trans when asked why it took three years go complete the project.

The $37.9 million project includes large sound walls with the Chico logo engraved on the sides to provide a buffer for traffic noise that affect neighborhoods next to the highway.