Cities ponder new bridges over river

From the News-Ledger – July 27, 2011 –

Southport crossing still lacks traction; bridge at Broadway/15th Street will get further scrutiny

By Steve Marschke
News-Ledger Editor

Sacramento’s city council reacted to a new Sac/West Sac study of possible new river crossings by leaning away from the concept of a new bridge from Sutterville Road to the Lake Washington Boulevard in Southport. But the councils on both side of the river have still found some common ground.

From among eight possible bridge options, the two city councils last week were still looking seriously at at least two major bridge projects to better connect the cities. The most popular ideas seemed to be a replacement or expansion of the I Street Bridge in the north area, and an entirely new connection just south of the Pioneer Bridge (which carries U.S. 50). The new southern connection might reach from Sacramento’s Broadway area to West Sacramento’s 15th Street

“One of the options is to rplace the I Street Bridge and realign it on the Sacramento side,” West Sacramento mayor Christopher Cabaldon told the News-Ledger. “Another option is a crossing at 15th Street and Broadway, just south of the Pioneer Bridge. Then there’s the Sutterville Bridge option, and another I Street Bridge option – replacing it with a four-lane bridge with bike and pedestrian options (without realigning it).”

Added to the existing Tower and Pioneer crossings, that would make “essentially two in the north and two in the south,” said Cabaldon.

Both city councils agreed that they want to create “neighborhood-friendly” crossings.

Or, as Sacramento’s director of transportation was quoted in the Bee, “No Pioneer Bridge 2, the sequel.”
Sacramento also wants to do more extensive analysis of the impacts of a Broadway bridge on businesses and residents of that area. Locals there – like those further south, near Sutterville Road – have expressed their concerns about the impact of a new bridge from West Sac.

The two cities are now delving into the question of just how to make a “neighborhood-friendly” bridge to tie the riverfront together better than the soaring concrete mass that is the Pioneer Bridge. They also have not made any final determination on the number of new bridge connections, or exactly what kind of traffic (vehicle, bike or pedestrian) each will handle.

Also to be determined is the question of boat traffic. Will the new bridges need to be movable – like the rotating I Street Bridge or the lifting-style Tower Bridge? Failing that, will they have to be built very tall and expensive like the Pioneer Bridge, as another way to accommodate tall boats?

Or can the new spans be built closer to the water – say, 30 feet off the water, and relatively small, simple and cheap?

Right now, the federal government considers the Sacramento River to be a “navigable waterway,” said Cabaldon. That means a new bridge has to be either very high or else movable to allow for ship traffic. But the two cities might try to change that designation, allowing lower, cheaper bridge construction.

Low bridges might impede some tall traffic – like taller sailboats – but Cabaldon said that traffic is minimal anyway.

The mayor said that while new connections to the freeway system and Sacramento employment centers are important to West Sacramentans, the bridges are also important to Sacramento.

They would pose a convenience for Sacramento residents trying to go west, and would help spur waterfront development on both sides of the river, he said.

The bridges would likely require a large shot of money from the federal government, as well as local matching funds, Cabaldon projected. The first step is to finalize plans for new bridges and get them onto the regional set of priorities of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, to help get in line for funding.

When could new bridges start going up, whatever the final sites chosen?

“There’s no way we’re going to be in construction in the next couple of years,” Cabaldon answered.

After that, it’s anybody’s guess.

Copright News-Ledger 2011

Leave a Reply