The Bridging I-5 project area extends from Capitol Mall south to O Street.
Bridging I-5 is a project designed to help reconnect downtown Sacramento to the riverfront, improving circulation in the City’s central core and complementing redevelopment efforts along the riverfront and throughout downtown.
When Interstate 5 (I-5) was completed and opened to traffic nearly 40 years ago, the Sacramento riverfront was effectively cut off from the rest of downtown Sacramento, isolating the community from its historic origin and the Sacramento River. In 2000, the City of Sacramento began to evaluate the possibility of reconnecting downtown Sacramento with the riverfront by either bridging or decking over part of I-5 south of Capitol Mall. This section of I-5 was built below grade, much lower than city streets, to accommodate necessary overcrossings and freeway ramp access at Capitol Mall, O Street, and P Street.
After conducting initial studies, a community visioning process, and a Caltrans-required Project Study Report (PSR), the City made the decision to move forward with plans to implement a more limited bridging scenario rather than a much more ambitious—and expensive—decking option. The decking option—conceived in better economic times and before a number of obstacles were discovered during technical analyses—envisioned shops, parks, housing, or other uses built on and around a new multi-block freeway deck structure spanning I-5 from Capitol Mall southward. But it also carried a price tag in excess of $250 million.
As significant constraints—both technical and economic—emerged with the decking concept, the City and its consultant team turned their focus to a non-decking alternative that will still meet the project’s essential connectivity goals through a variety of vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle improvements (see Current Project Components)
After presenting this preferred alternative to the City Council in early September 2009, the project team began work on the draft project report and the technical studies for the environmental document. The CEQA Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) was circulated for public comment through August 31, 2011. In November 2011, Council adopted the environmental report. Work will begin on final design following City Council approval of the design contract, expected in April 2012.