A bridge too near

A new crossing over the Sacramento River, connecting the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento, could be a boon for both towns. Bites is particularly intrigued by the possibility of a Broadway bridge, to bring new traffic and vitality to a couple of Sacramento’s cooler commercial districts.

But Land Park residents have already nixed a south-of-downtown crossing once, and appear ready to do so again.

Sacramento and West Sacramento are now wrapping up a survey of citizen opinions about a new river crossing—part of a yearlong study on a possible new bridge. There are, of course, two bridges connecting the two cities—the I Street Bridge north of downtown, and the Tower Bridge at Capitol Mall—and three if you count Interstate 80.

The city backed off pursuing a Broadway bridge two years ago, after the folks in Land Park freaked out about the idea of 30,000 new cars on Broadway every day. And they had a point; the city hadn’t really done its homework before zeroing in on Broadway.

“We realized we’d jumped ahead a step” by focusing on one site without adequately considering the alternatives, said Fran Halbakken, with the Sacramento Department of Transportation.

Alternatives like a Sutterville crossing connecting to Linden Road on the West Sacramento side. Or a new span in the area of the downtown rail yards, or building no bridge at all.

Bites (politely) suggested to Halbakken that we all know the Broadway bridge is really the best site and that the city is merely going through the motions to placate Land Park, but Halbakken wouldn’t take the bait.

“We don’t know what the best location is yet,” she explained, adding that the city was in the “very preliminary first steps” of making a determination. Part of the process includes getting the recommendations of an official “stakeholder advisory committee,” which includes members of the Land Park Community Association.

Craig Powell with the LPCA told Bites that a Broadway bridge that didn’t allow cars at all, just bikes, pedestrians, light rail, etc., “would be fine with just about everybody.”

Which is an interesting idea, if it’s sincere—and not just a bit of misdirection intended to make any Broadway crossing less appealing to city planners.

The LPCA naturally prefers a crossing somewhere between Interstate 80 and the American River, the option that’s farthest from their neighborhood.

A Sutterville bridge, on the other hand, is out of the question, being in more less the heart of Land Park. “A bridge there would be a direct threat to Land Park’s quality of life,” said Powell.

Now, you might be asking yourself, “What isn’t a direct threat to Land Park’s quality of life?” And Bites can’t help you there. But it’s clear that neighborhood leaders are prepared to throw an expensive hissy fit if need be.

“We probably have more land-use lawyers and litigators per square block in Land Park than any other neighborhood in the city,” Powell explained. “Local lawyers would be lining up at the courthouse to file [California Environmental Quality Act] suits to halt a Sutterville bridge.”

Guess we’ll just have to blow up that bridge when we come to it.