Friday, May 11, 2007

Bridges over the Rivers

It’s obvious we need more full service bridges, and their structural beauty should honor the historic legacy and wonderful natural settings of their location.

Editorial: Bridges and politics
New, wider spans test region, budgets
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, May 11, 2007

A proposal to build or widen a bridge is more than a challenge of engineering. It is a challenge of politics and communities. There can be two very different worlds on both sides of a bridge. One side may want a new or wider structure; the other side may not. Finding a solution is part of the region's political and transportation future, because some existing bridges are going to have a hard time keeping up with the traffic.

The Bee's Tony Bizjak recently reviewed the emerging traffic projections. They suggest that bridge politics surrounding Interstate 5 may dominate the agenda, particularly involving West Sacramento, South Natomas and downtown.

From the West Sacramento side of the river, a new bridge would come in handy. Today, many West Sacramento commuters have to drive north to get to Sacramento and Interstate 5. A bridge connecting West Sacramento with Sacramento would create a more direct route. But neighborhoods on the Sacramento side of the river fear more traffic. So where should a bridge be built? Transportation officials are studying a bridge that would extend Broadway in Sacramento with a new span near Miller Park. It is hardly free of controversy, but it is definitely worth a study.

The same is true for a possible new bridge over the American River between downtown Sacramento and South Natomas. At the moment, the primary route between the communities is I-5. But traffic on the I-5 bridge is expected to increase by at least 50 percent in the next 20 years. Extending Truxel Road from South Natomas into the downtown is the route to study. But what kind of bridge, if any? For pedestrians, bicyclists and light rail only? A bus lane? Or a full-service bridge with cars?