For the first time in 42 years, automobiles rolled onto the K Street Mall this afternoon in a moment that city officials and business leaders hope will inject new life into downtown Sacramento's historic thoroughfare.
The first car to roll onto K Street was a red 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS with Mayor Kevin Johnson riding in the passenger seat. That car was followed a parade of classic automobiles driving past hundreds of spectators in a parade-like atmosphere that even included red, white and blue confetti falling from rooftops.
"K Street is finally changing," said Steve Cohn, Sacramento city councilman.
Downtown officials have long waited for the reintroduction of cars on K Street, saying it will attract more visitors and enliven the area. While much of the street remains vacant, new bars, shops and restaurants have opened within the past year and a massive redevelopment project for nearly the entire 700 block is planned.
While automobiles are expected to boost the street, city officials are not aiming to transform K Street into a speedy thoroughfare.
The street will have only two lanes - one for automobiles traveling in each direction - and traffic will only be allowed between Eighth and 12th streets. That means the block bordering the Westfield Downtown Plaza and the block leading to the Convention Center will both remain car free.
Autos will also share the street with light-rail trains - don't be surprised to get stuck behind one at a station - and speeds for cars will be limited to the 15 to 20 mph range.
There will be no parking on the street, although there will be passenger drop-off zones. The sidewalks will remain wide to accommodate a steady flow of pedestrians.