City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

April 2, 2012
No I-5 deck, but Sacramento still wants better downtown-river connections

It's been the dream of city planners for years: covering I-5 in downtown with a massive deck and eliminating a noisy barrier between the center city and the Sacramento River.

While plans under discussion aren't quite as grand as they once were - planners once tossed around the idea of a project costing more than $100 million - City Hall does want to hire a firm to come up with some design ideas that will increase flow from downtown streets to the riverfront area.

The City Council will be asked on Tuesday to approve a $799,178 contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff for design plans that could eventually include a bridge over I-5 at N Street, extending 2nd Street out of Old Sacramento, creating a new "gateway intersection" into Old Sacramento from Capitol Mall and building new sidewalks. A lot of that work is designed to improve access from the Crocker Art Museum to Old Sacramento.

There are some federal grants available for the design project, but those will expire next year. No funding has been identified for the $37 million needed for construction, according to a city staff report, but city staffers believe they can secure state and federal dollars for the project later on.

Better connecting the riverfront and Old Sacramento to downtown has been talked about for years at City Hall. Going back to 2003, city planners and community groups have vetted several ideas - 36, to be exact - that ranged from placing a deck across the entire "boat section" of I-5 to more minimal covers.

Some plans called for building a park on the deck. Others looked at building office space.

Despite the renewed talk of chipping away at the I-5 barrier, we're still probably several years away from downtown and the river feeling like they're in the same neighborhood.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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